Growth of the bird flu

I’m sure that everyone has heard of the bird flu and its progression around the world. In a Wall Street Journal article the Bush administration, along with many other countries, is campaigning to get people to prepare for an outbreak. A WHO official warned that there are "black holes" in the international network for monitoring the spread of bird flu. Alan Hay, the director of the WHO's influenza-reference center, said some countries lack adequate monitoring systems while others are reluctant to share information, the Scotsman reported. I certainly hope that with a world cooperation this and the next possible pandemic will turn out like the sars cases several years ago.

Drug companies charities

Drug companies are giving to their favorite charities to help the poor cover the costs of prescriptions. A Wall Street Journal article explains that this system keeps people insured and keeps the insurance companies paying for most of the costs. Is this solely for helping the underinsured or is it good business and a tax shelter to keep the money circulating back to where it started from? Some say that this is to protect the high priced drugs that they’re selling, but I think it’s good business and a win-win situation for both parties. They are aiding the less fortunate with the high costs of prescription drugs and providing good publicity for charities which literally comes back to them four or more fold.

Discrimination at Merril Lynch

Discrimination at Merrill Lynch
The recent complaint by a long time Merrill Lynch broker that the company doesn’t hire enough blacks has the management concerned, especially since the chief executive is black. If Merrill Lynch meets the industry average, this does not strike me as discrimination but just hiring the best brokers they can whether they’re black or white. If Merrill Lynch tries to hire more than the industrial average, it is probably reverse discrimination. The Wall Street Journal article explores the complaint that African American brokers are typically given minorities and low net worth clients. I think business is tough, and it doesn’t mater your color only your drive to succeed.

A Womans' Rights

A recent Wall Street Journal article reveals a document showing that Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito advocated using state laws to erode or overturn abortion rights, which is expected to intensify the debate over his nomination. “The Alito memo was released with dozens of others from the National Archives”. Senate hearings are scheduled to open early next month and activists on both sides of the debate are trying to decide whether he would try to steer the court toward overturning Roe, the landmark 1973 ruling granting federal abortion rights. I don’t think that the courts should be making these decisions for women, if a woman doesn’t want to be a mother she shouldn’t be one despite circumstances.

Hospital or 5 star hotel?

My aunt was recently admitted to the hospital after going to the emergency room for a stomach problem. After 10 days in the hospital and some special attention by several doctors she arrived home to await the bills. The bills totaled almost $50,000! I couldn’t believe it! Room charges in some hospitals have skyrocketed and even non-prescription medication seems to cost more when you knocking on death’s door. Will this lead to alternative hospitals and care? A person making average wages can not possibly afford to stay in the hospital one week. For those 10 days my aunt will have to work more than a year! Insurance of course helps to lighten the blow, but if costs continue to increase then eventually even insurance companies will not be able to foot the bill for everything.

Pro Sports in Las Vegas

Will Las Vegas ever get a pro sports team? They seem to have it all gambling, casinos, entertainment you can’t get anywhere else and restaurants, restaurants and more restaurants. Las Vegas however has yet to get a pro sports team, but one man is out to see what he can do about that. What will this do for the economy of Las Vegas? Don’t they make enough money as it is? Earlier this year the Tennis Channel Open announced that it would be moving its tournament to Vegas in 2006 and Scottsdale Arizona is sad to see such a great revenue generator leave. Whether the Las Vegas Gamblers will be joining the MLB, NBA or NFL has yet to be seen, but I’m sure eventually they will have a team.

Tuition Increases

Tuition increases are something you have come to expect as a college student. At Youngstown University they are going on their ninth straight year. Could you say that this is because of a growing economy? Demand for education? Or is someone out to make a few bucks? At this point I’m not sure. Sometimes I can see that the arguments made by school administrations are legitimate, but there are many things, even about SUU that just don’t seem right. On our Labor day holiday earlier this month it was a beautiful day and I went to play tennis, however the tennis courts were locked? Why? I pay my student fees and expect to be able to play. Are all these additional fees worth it? One thing we can be grateful for is that we get a quality education here at SUU and the price is very reasonable compared to other schools, however no one likes to hear that they will have to pay more.

Samsung pleads guilty

Samsung pleaded guilty today to charges that it participated in price fixing. This is significant because Samsung is the largest computer chip maker in the world. In price fixing, Samsung affected the price of computers all over the world. The computer industry is only getting bigger and with news that the largest chip maker participated in price fixing will this affect the market? Most likely not the demand for computers because everybody needs a computer, but it will affect the overall image of the company. This could be damaging because of the competitiveness of the industry. It is hard to believe that the largest maker would want to jeopardize its status within the industry, but it may have felt the pressure from newcomers in the market and other companies that had the inside track.

Tokyo Hotel -- No leash, no paws, no service?

Would you be willing to pay for a five star hotel? What about for you dog? New in Tokyo is the pampering your pet has been waiting for. I wonder what kind of demand curve this type of service has? Or will have? Think about it. How much would you be willing to pay to make sure your pet got top treatment while you were away on business? Would you be willing to pay for something where they will probably get more attention then the average day that they spend at home with you. This has got to be something for the super wealthy or those people that treat their pets like their children.

A better investment

It is not very often that you see a savings bond being given as a gift. Not many people think of a savings bond when they think of a solid investment. With the rising inflation the Series I type savings bond is becoming a better investment than most people think. With the impact of inflation the return on a savings bond as of April 2006 will be around 6.73 percent and it is guaranteed. This number is greater than the current return on the S&P and better than CD's. Not only is the return greater, there is no risk with the bond and it is guaranteed. Don't worry it is not too late to get your savings bond. You must do it before May 2006.


As a single person I’m always looking for someone to “hook up” with. Now Apple has made it even easier. Imagine that! No, its not the iDate it’s the iPod! A new service called podDater.com can deliver your future dates right to the palm of your hand. Could they make it any easier. What are people really willing to pay for this? They say that the service is expected to be very profitable—just think, you may not ever have to use one of those cheesy pick-up lines again!

New vs Old

I don’t know about you, but I have NEVER owned a NEW car. I think that my parents have purchased only one car new and that car was the family car that we drove for 13 plus years until someone broadsided my Mom when she was making a routine trip to the grocery store. According to this article new cars seem to have problems just like older cars, according at least to a sample of AAA where of 79,000 cars about 5,000 were brand new. I have owned my car now for 4 years, it is 10 years old with average miles and I have yet to make a major repair. Keep on truckin’

Video rentals take a hit from online sales/rentals

It seems that video rental stores are suffering do to the demand in purchasing movies online or renting them online or using pay-per-view type services to order the movie directly from you cable provider. Will this change how movies are seen? I think so. Just this last weekend I was home and watched TV using the new satellite program my parents had bought. It was great. We even ordered a movie and didn’t even have to make a trip to the local blockbuster.

Oprah's endorsments set the holiday trends

Oprah earlier this month endorsed her favorite products and gifts for the season. I am wondering just how much she charges. Is this going to be as big as Super Bowl commercials? Will people be clammoring to have Oprah try their product so that their product will be seen by hundreds of house wives and young women accross the country. She's got a lot of marketing power and she is not afraid to use it. I'm sure that no matter what she endorsed would see a sales increase. If she likes to eat dirt then all of a sudden its popular?!

Blackberry blues

Looks like Blackberry has lost yet another case on the patent dispute. It looks like they may not be able to sell their products in the US in the future. I have to say that I for one would not be sad, and I know a few Blackberry users who wouldn't be either. Though I wonder what this will do for Pocket PC and Palm sales. Palm seems to be doing well in the organizer/cell phone market and there are other ways to check your e-mail wirelessly then using the technology of the blackberry.

Insider Trading

"Illegal insider trading – occurs when a person, who has special access to or is aware of unpublished corporate information, uses that information to make a profit by selling or buying corporate securities. If that person wrongfully obtains this nonpublic information, the trader has committed insider trading." (Source) Insider trading seems to be more and more of a topic of todays news. It seems that the people that are running corporations, or those with insider information or becoming more and more greeding or unethical. I at one time thought it was stupid for people to go to jail for insider trading. But after I read more about it I can see the issue. Most people trade fairly on the stock market. They do their research and make investments that they feel to be the best. So those with insider information should have an upper hand on the rest of us. The outcome of most insider trading schemes end with hurt markets and money that lose money. So I now think that it is a good thing that insider traders go to jail.


"Whistleblower: a person who engages in whistleblowing or, in other words, blows the whistle on wrongdoing; a dissenter from wrongdoing" I find whistleblowing a very interesting topic. When is it necessary and when should one feel that strong obligation to whistleblow. I crosses my mind that if a company is doing wrong, or even if an co-worker is doing something wrong, that one has the responsibility to report it. But on the other hand, in the past, a person that whistleblows ends up getting the shaft. After one whistleblows, it is very hard to find another job. Depending on the situation, the whistleblower may be hated by others. I think that there should be laws that support whistleblowing and protects those that engage in it. If one felt like their rights to get another job were protected, then maybe companies like Enron would be busted long before it creates as much damage as it did. Whistleblowing

Misleading Use of Advertising

Advertising can betray its role as a source of information by misrepresentation and by withholding relevant facts. Sometimes, too, the information function of media can be subverted by advertisers' pressure upon publications or programs not to treat of questions that might prove embarrassing or inconvenient. So what can we believe when it comes to what a company advertises. Obviously the company is bias towards their products and they only share what is great about it. But does the company also have a responsibility in sharing what is harmful. There are many cases such as childrens toys that fit in this advertising problem. When a new toy comes to market you only see how fun and cool it is. The advertisement is directed towards the children. So after the child convinces their parent to purchase it they find that the toy is harmful and in some instances promoting violence or other harmful things. So when a company advertises they use their marketing scheme to sell. But in an over bearing way of forcing a sale they leave out the risks and other problems with their products. I think that a company should be required to disclose this information and have penalties for misleading advertising. Advertising

Are they serious?

The day after Thanksgiving is a day of sheer chaos in the retail world. I read of extra police being called to a Wal-Mart to help settle down the crowds of people trying to get special deals on laptops. In another situation, police had to take a man down to the ground and arrest him for skipping in line. It is hard to imagine what drives these consumers to the point of camping in the cold all night and then acting like kids on an elementary school playground once in the store. Yeah, I understand their motive is to get the excellant deal. However, is it because the consumers are hurting on funds and need to get the lower price, or is it the feeling of satisfaction for getting the lower price, or do the individuals just like to be among the chaotic atmosphere? Strangely enough, I am sure there are people out there that fit the third category. My main question is, what can managers do to retain a certain level of this excitement throughout the entire holiday season to maximize profits? I think a solution to this might actually be able to explain more of the consumers' thought process behind all of the chaos on the day after Thanksgiving.

Decreasing Health Benefits In Corporate America

One of the best things about working for a big company is that not only do you usually get a better salary, but you also get to look forward to the contribution from the company towards your health insurance. But in recent years a trend of decreasing company contributions is beginning to be noticeable. As everything from corporate downsizing to other cost savings, corporations are finding more and more ways to cut what they are paying out to employees. It seems to me the more I read about corporate america today is that the shareholders are more important to the company than even the employees. While the employees struggle to live, the top CEO and shareholders are raking in the money. Now they have the nerve to take even more by cutting health insurance contributions. If you ask me this is just wrong and very unethical. It has always been a belief of mine that you shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you and this is definitely biting that hand. Its the employees that should be valued the most since their the ones making the money. Health Insurance

Ethics of Corporate Downsizing

So here we are all in our final days of college. Years have been spent in trying to get we hope to be considered a future of security in a profession. But startling enough corporate downsizing is becoming a trend that threatens this very job security that some value more than even money. As corporations and business in general try to come up with more and more ways to save money and boost stock prices through profits many of the corners have already been cut. So what is next? In an article that I found on internet it explains how companies are downsizing and laying off in order to save money. They are cutting upper managment and bringing in fresh blood at lower wages. Yes this does help the business financially but what about ethically? Here many of these people have devoted their lives at their jobs just to be let go for financial reasons. I find this a little startling. I guess the only upside for being close to graduation is that their will be a lot of job openings with these downsizing firms that are looking for fresh blood. But I still feel bad for those that lose their jobs. Downsizing

Is Corporate Charity Really Charity?

"Strategic philanthropy" This is not new to corporations. This is something that has been going on for a while. It is when the purpose of a corpoartion in giving charity is to boost sales and company credibility. So is this really considered to be charity then? I believe that the charity that a company gives is just another way for the company to advertise. The charity given is another way for the company to have another in on the marketing scheme. Although their are alternative motives in corporate charity, it is also nice to know that the company does help when help is needed. But don't be fooled into thinking that the company is doing it completely out of the kindness of their hearts. Nothing is free in life and corporations have done their math to make sure that the charity that is given will be paid back through the theory that "Charity Pays." Corporate Charity

Lobbying Should Be Regulated

"Philip Morris is at it again, competing hard to be a leading donor of unregulated soft money for the third election in a row. In 1998, the tobacco giant deployed a Washington, DC lobbying force that outnumbered the US Senate, and registered at least 208 lobbyists in 44 states in 1999. Philip Morris spends thousands of dollars each year on gifts to state legislators and their staff members, including tickets to the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, basketball games and a Rolling Stones concert." Source (Lobbying).

This article about a well known tabacco company made me a little mad. Lobbying is when a company pays money to have lobby members go to senate and push their bills or opinions through. It basically means that all it takes to have congress on your side is money. I think that a company like Philip Morris uses this lobbying to their advantage. Because of their industry, without their money being paid out, and without lobbying, they would have a lot more trouble from the government. I think that the amount of money allowed in lobbying should be regulated. And the power that a coporation has in over powering the governement should be stopped. It is obvious why Philip Morris donates, gives gifts, and made sure to outnumber the US Senate with lobbyists. Its nothing more than those with money get their way and those without don't.

Impact of Environmental Regulations on Business

It is a known factor that we are all concerned with the environment and its protection. But how far can the government regulations take the enforcement? In many cases the way the government enforces their regulations is to have impact fees and other fines for non compliance. So in the business defense, how are they supposed to maintain a competitive market and also gain profit when their external and internal environmental protection policies cost keep going up. I found an article that said that more than 60% of all businesses being affected by the regulations feel that they are excesive and unacceptable. Many businesses find it easier to go out of business instead of accepting the costs that would have to be paid in order to stay in business. So in the long run yes we are protecting the environment, and yes it is the individual business's responsibility to protect the environment. But a line should be drawn in the amount it costs and the extent they are willing to take it. Or a lot more than just the environment will be hurt, including the economy and our individual bang for our own buck after prices go up to cover these costs. Regulation

Online Gambling

Should the government make online gambling illegal. This could cause a slew of problems especially if small countries and foreign states try to take advantage of the opportunity to make some US dollars. The government thinks that it should be illegal because many state laws prohibit gambling. Countries like Antigua are ready to talk to the World Trade Organization about restrictions. Billions of dollars each year are spent on internet gaming.

Phishing for Tax Dollars

It seems that as the end of the year approaches and everyone anticipates their tax refunds (hopefully) that internet securtity firms are trying to prevent a scam that has already began. Phishing e-mails have already been discovered telling people that there is a loophole in the IRS website and they could get more money back from the government. First of all if you even consider this then you are just plain stupid. Trying to steal from the government is not my idea of fun. The worst part is that those who fall for it will end up paying a lot more than they think they might be getting--like the content of their own personal bank accounts, that is if the government hasn't already taken it all.

Best growth in 20 years?

Is the US economy really doing THIS well? After all of the worries, interest rate increases and natural disasters it looks like the GDP isn't in bad shape at all. Looks like consumer spending is up due to the housing market growth and other "durable goods".The increase is the best we've seen in 20 years! Looks like many are hoping that the job market growth will be trailing behind and hopfully it is.

What will the FOMC be giving as a Christmas gift on Dec. 13?

The Federal Open Market Committee meets for the final time for 2005 on December 13 and we can all expect yet another increase in rates. Looks like Mr. Bernanke may be giving everyone a lump of coal, a 50 basis point increase, for Christmas. This hopefully would be the end of rate hikes for a while, but who knows? I just hope that everyone buys me a Christmas present before they realize that their credit card rates will be going up. I hope Santa gets a good paying off-season job to pay his bills.

Final Exams A Test or Not a Test?

When it comes to finals I think most of us will agree that it's not what it should be. Finals are becoming more and more of a test following an all night cram session then it is based on the knowledge learned throughout the semester. The whole idea of having a final exam seems to have changed just over my time as a student and varies from class to class. Is there a better way to test? At most finals stress everyone out, and completely alter your sleeping habits for the week, or maybe two. There's got to be a better way.

Turkey Day has come and gone--no bird flu

One would think that the bird flu would have caused less turkey's to be purchased this year, however from the talk I've heard I have to meet anyone that didn't have turkey for Thanksgiving, not to mention not one that came down with the bird flu. It is amazing how everything seems to tie into economics. If people spend less money than they would have by purchasing chicken (or maybe spam...come to think of it maybe not) then that puts less money in the economy. If an influenza scare can cause people to spend less then various aspects of the whole economic system may change. As for me I stuffed to the rafters and still working on those leftovers.

Do less mortgages mean that the housing market is slowing down?

It looks like mortgages have started to decrease. Finally after all of the rate hikes and everything that has happened in the country this year things are slowing down. I have heard talk among several individuals, including bankers that the boom we've seen recently seems to be coming to a plateau. I hope that this is the case. A friend in Las Vegas is trying to sell his home and can't seem to find a buyer even though it is cometitively priced and in a great neighborhood. Could these be signs that the market is saturated or will we continue to see steady growth in the future? The demand for loans is decreasing, and hopefully the housing market will follow the same trend.


Sorry about that, here is the link for that article if you want to read it.Link

Poetic Justice

I couldn't help but get bothered by this. When I watch T.V., I see men and women of color as symbols of excellence and admiration in the workforce. We see CEO's, successful entrepreneurs, and leaders of this nation, all of "black and brown" origin. This article by Rev. Jesse Jackson made me feel as though our nation still owes him something. He states that when black's finally hold their position on Wall Street, that it will be "Poetic Justice." FOR WHAT? Yeah, it couldn't have been any more wrong to accept slavery, for any race. But, is he trying to get back at this nation or what? I know that racism is still prevalent in our society, but why is it still so strong with blacks?Is he driving a wedge between blacks and whites, or is it just me? Rev. Jackson states that out of the $7 trillion market of mutual funds, "blacks and browns" only manage $5 billion, why? I don't know why their is such a large gap in the numbers, but I know this, that Stanley O'neal is the Chief Executive for Merril Lynch. Many people of colored backgrounds, whether it be blacks, hispanics, or asians, hold positions of authority all over the nation. I don't know where he is going with this. If we simply make the numbers equall based on color, what about performance? People of colored backgrounds get good jobs everyday by doing it the old fashioned way, they work hard. I don't see why he is making such a big deal about it. Where would our economy be if we simply said,"Well, the last CEO of our company was white, so this person is out." It seems that everything is based on race these days.

Increase in oil

Due to the recent effects of global warming many countries including the United States are beginning to lay claim to parts of the North Pole Region. It is thought that when the full effect of global warming is complete, the region will be rich in oil. This is significant in that no longer will countries that border the region have to rely solely on the Middle East for oil production. It is a well-known fact that there is oil in this region but due to the existence of ice caps the access to the oil is limited. Global warming has been seen as a negative to the economy of the world, especially with the thoughts that it is to blame for the amount of hurricanes that have occurred this year. Now it will be seen as a source of economic growth if the ice continues to melt.

Americans on Board?

In this article that I found about the President's decision to keep our American troops in Iraq, I couldn't help think that maybe the citizens of this country don't really know what they want. Many people are backing down when the job isn't completely done. The article talks about how the popularity of the Bush administration is going down considerably because of the President's inability to project a timetable for bringing home all of our troops. The President tells us as a nation as he has before to "stay the course". This is seen by critics as just another delay, and not a viable answer. Is their anything wrong with finishing what you started? I agree with the President that these things take time. We don't know how long this will take. Even if a projected time were given as the war started, that isn't a definite answer. I don't like the war, but I think that everything would be wasted if we were to just bring home everyone now. The Iraqi troops are learning what to do, and if we stay with things 'til they are done, we will be a lot better off. I think that if troops were to be taken out right now that terrorists would just overrun what we have established and we would be back where we started.

The Economics of Santa

A man giving away free presents (manufactured most likely on slave labor--poor little elves) seems too good to be true. For those who don't know yet, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there really is no Santa. Now that we've cleared that up consider for a moment what the economic effects of a real Santa would be. Parents would not be spending hundreds of dollars on presents for the children. What would this mean for the economy. This year many plan to cut their holdiay spending according to many national surveys. Even though black friday seemed to show good profits, this is not always the best forecast of season spending. If there were a Santa Claus living in the North Pole and making all of our presents, even if he paid his elves--which I'm sure he doesn't--most likely that money, whatever currency it may be, would not be cycled back into our economy. How often do you see elves at Wal-Mart?

Christmas Music and the Law of Diminishing Returns

Can too much of somthing be a bad thing? YES! Before Thanksgiving even had a chance to get going my roommate was already playing songs about jolly ol' Saint Nick and winter wonderlands. I wonder if there are really subliminal messages in the music like the "light sounds" they play at the mall that say "buy, buy, buy, spend, spend, spend, help the economy". Okay I wouldn't go that far. For me it's all about saving the carols for the season (preferrably December) in order to catch the spirit. When non-stop Christmas music begins immediately following Thanksgiving by the 2nd week of December I'm listening to less of the radio and more of my regular music, not because I'm a scrooge, but because I can only take so much. Some would have the music played year round. Just as you can't eat pizza every meal, every day I don't think it's possible to ENJOY Christmas music all year.

Rebuilding New Orleans

Despite all the pain and suffering that Hurricane Katrina caused, there is hope that something good will come of the disaster. Natural disasters occur no matter what we do to prevent them, it is how we respond to them that determines the overall effects of them. Hurricane Katrina demolished houses and a city for that matter, but it also created numerous jobs. In efforts to rebuild the city, numerous immigrants, both legal and illegal have flocked to New Orleans to work. Despite the fact that some of the workers are illegal they are adding to the workforce. The work needs to be done and these are the people that are taking advantage of the situation. The work is not the most desirable of all jobs, but for those working it is of greater financial benefit than some of the other jobs that they have had to do. It is nice to see something good come of such a tragedy.

The Human Fund and other Donations for the Holidays

I just thought I'd stand on my soapbox for a moment:
As the season is now upon us it is time again for the bell ringers to stand in front of the local Wal-Mart and for many charities to ask for donations. How do charities play into the economics of the nation this year? I am left to wonder after the many natural disasters and happenings of 2005 if there is still anything left to give. Many still seem to be able to find it in them to give for the holidays. I think that no matter our own circumstances and no matter what we've already given that to really feel the spirit of the season we need to continue to help others in need.

Chirstmas, Credit Cards...and Crime!?

Black Friday kicked off the holiday shopping for the year, and with increased internet sales it's time for the credit card theives to try new ways to fool the system. Don't they know that Santa is making his list and checking it twice? Online retailers say it is very difficult to find fraud protection and that it is very costly to impliment these systems. They must decide if it is economically worth it to have a system that is vulnerable and deal with fraud, or avoid the problems all together and find something that works. Many companies are giving guarentees that if they will cover charges that are fraud transactions if they allow the transactions to be processed as an incentive to impliment their systems with online retailers. Eventually this will be a must, if it isn't already, for all businesses that offer their products online.

GDP grows faster than expected

Even with all of the natural disasters that struck the United States during the third quarter, GDP increased by 4.3 percent. This number is even greater than the originally predicted growth of 3.8 percent. Not only did GDP grow at a rate faster than predicted but it did so without any real signs of increasing inflation. These numbers are amazing considering the amount of problems that the economy faced during the quarter. Not only were there hurricanes but the increase in interest rates and other factors had to be considered in the GDP. Many people are quick to panic in times of trouble but it appears that investors and others did not during trying times.

EBay wins war of 'Cyber Monday'

For many years, consumers have flocked to the stores the day after Thanksgiving in search of the best deals. This event is commonly known as 'Black Friday.' With the recent change in technology more and more people are waiting now until 'Cyber Monday' to find the best details on items. This year the battle for customers on the Internet was won by EBay. They nearly doubled the sales of Amazon.com. It is amazing to see the influence that online sales have had on the industry in recent years. With such influence retail sales have increased and consumers are able to get what they want at the price they are willing to pay for it. The market is only increasing and continues to be an influential part of retail sales. Even with the increase of internet sales many stores have continued to see an increase in business and increased profits. 'Black Friday' will never disappear but it may be overtaken by 'Cyber Monday' if the ability to get what you want at the price you want it becomes more and more reliable.


Greater Median Income Reported in the East

Many of us are going to be graduating soon and looking for jobs to pay for the last four years of debt acquired to obtain our bachelor degrees. According to the census data released last Tuesday, the highest median incomes were recorded in the eastern states consisting of New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The median income in these areas is above $56,000 compared to the national average of $43,000. The states reporting the lowest median income are West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Arkansas. One thought that comes to mind is how large of a role does the cost of living play in the east, as I have seen in areas such as California and New York; the wages are not equal to the increasing costs of living. Although, I know in these areas the cost of living may influence the median income to somewhat compensate for the costs. Would this be the reason the median income is higher or would it be the fact that people are merely compensated more for their performance?

Delta Airlines: Is a Resolution Possible?

Delta employees are to the point of a unanimous strike due to the current issue being argued in the bankruptcy courts. I believe the pilots have been very consensual in being a positive alliance through out the proceedings, last year alone they agreed to a 32 % pay cut. These pilots have been loyal to Delta for years, have devoted a good part of their working careers to this company and in my opinion should be taken care of for it. The thought of decreasing wages even lower would be a huge burden to anyone that is accustom to that lifestyle. My question is, has management and corporate executives decreased their pay scales at the same rate as the employees. One the other hand Delta is trying to do everything they can to salvage a company whom employs thousands of people. I believe the bankruptcy courts will rule on a decision, which encompasses the needs of both Delta Airlines and their labor union.

Flood Insurance in Utah

Many of us in the state of Utah had never considered flood insurance until the disaster that was created by hurricane Rita and Katrina. The MSNBC article states that all homeowners should have some degree of flood insurance, whether it is partial or full coverage. Flood insurance can protect you from large storms, rising water or clogged drainage systems. This could happen to anyone throughout the U.S. even in areas that flooding is never a concern. Considering local situations such as St. George and the homes that sit along or near the Virgin River, should if not upon completion to building their homes purchase flood insurance due to the high risk that is increased by the location. If your home is in an area with slight to no risk regarding the event of a flood, the insurance premiums can cost as little as $112 dollars per year. This would certainly bare some relief of the fact that what you have invested your life into is secured.

Industrial Espionage

We all know that to start a business or to come up with a new product is not a cheap thing to do. Many companies spend millions of dollars for this purpose in product development. So when it comes to other companies trying to copy the idea, where do we draw the line at the extent they can go to getting the information on the new product. For instance, if a company A just invented a new product, they spent millions of dollars throughout the process, and now company B wants a piece of the market. Company B doesn't want to re-invent the wheel so they pursue trying to get the necessary information on the new product to start producing it also. So does company B have the right to steal this information? Not only are they attempting to steal the product information but they are doing it in somewhat illegal ways. They go through you garbage. They use spyware to monitor your emails. They use undercover people to go into your business and gather information. They may even send a person to become employed long enough to get the product secrets. This is a huge problem with companies trying to undercut and steal from other companies. The way these people are doing this and a more indepth article can be found at a website on the internet. It also includes ways for a company to protect from industrial espionage. But even being protected, how far is a dishonest company willing to go to get your trade secrets? I just thought this was something to think about. Industrial Espionage

Diversification isn't for everyone

I came across an article that I found to be very informative, and it dealt with the issue of investment diversification. In Robert Kiyosaki's diversification article, he brought up the notion that diversification can be good, but can also limit one's potential for higher returns. His point was that if you spend a considerable amount of time, and effort in trying to find good investments, you will be able to eliminate some risk, while likely getting higher returns, than if you just simply diversified to reduce risk. I never thought of investing in that light, but I think that he has an excellent point, and I think that his method could be very useful for certain types of investors, proving that many things that happen in the economy are driven by people's behavior.

Saddam Doesn't Like The Prison Food.....

This article really hit a button for me. Saddam voiced his "frustrations" during a recess at his trial saying that he didn't like the food that we were feeding him, he didn't like being watched 24/7, and he didn't want his family to know how badly he was living. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? My understanding was that he is on trial for terrorism, and he's complaining about the food? I'm sure alot of the families of the victims of 9/11 would have thrown his ass in a disgusting dungeon and let him feed on the rat population if they had their say. Also, he's embarrassed of his living conditions in prison, didn't we just pick him up from his residency in a hole!?! This completely outraged me to read, he obviously has no remorse and to me should have undoubtedly gotten the death penalty.

Should Government Regulate Cable/ Satellite Programs?

Due to the increasingly popular provocative television programs shown on satellite and cable, lawmakers are proposing more government regulation. Personally, I don’t feel that it’s the cable/satellite company’s responsibility to ensure what your family watches is suitable in accordance with your standards. To me the notions seem similar to the tobacco and alcohol industry. You have the choice to smoke and drink, don’t you have the choice of what you want to watch, or what you want your family to watch. I believe that the government already has to much control over communications in this country. The idea of providing 'al la carte' programming packages would be a reasonable solution which leaves the control in the hands of the company. Let's face it, the most provocative shows such as Nip/Tuck and Rome are hits among audiences and that’s avant-garde at its best.

GOOD News About TAXES?

Recommendations for a 5% income tax plan are being carefully evaluated. They say that there will be some people who pay a bit more and some who pay a bit less. Rep. John Dougall anticipates a single bill which includes the income tax and the food tax changes. Most agree that the state and local tax should be removed from food. But the two reforms go hand in hand. I think it would be awesome to eliminate some tax and give the consumer an advantage in spending power but I also fear the effects of what will happen to our income taxes. I don't have a full understanding of what it all means. Maybe somebody could help me out......?

Music Downloading

Many companies have attempted to provide online downloading sites for music at affordable prices. But, it seems like all failures because people are still able to download for free, committing piracy, so there's low demand and willingness to pay for it. MusicLand is opening an online music downloading site that will also offer sales of concert tickets and other links. You would think that they had hopes for a profit, but its actually the exact opposite. It's true people want to be able to downloand the exact songs they want quick and easy in their own home, so give the consumer what they want right? I don't understand why a company would go out of their way when there isn't any money to be made. Maybe it helps the iPod market, I don't know you tell me........

Hope for Bay St. Louis?

The casino that sat on the outskirts of Bay St. Louis has shed a glimmer of hope on the consideration of building condominiums on the area where the casinos property is zoned 'resort'. Before the hurricane over half of the cities tax revenue came from this casino operation. Many locals are opposed to the idea of adding high rise condominiums to the quaint neighborhood, but the bottom line is if they do not stimulate some form of economic growth the citizens of Bay St. Louis will never see the city they all called home, pristine just as it was.

Dell's Domination Ending?

Dell has reportedly missed two consecutive quarters with regards to expected sales. They believe that its finally time for the dominating PC distributor to rejoin the other firms on planet earth. I think they don't have anything to worry about. If you were to look at other firms' sales i'm sure they'd probably be experiencing the same results. The article did mention some problems with their processes and quality which can cause some huge problems for the company. Maybe they should look into improving the things that they can, it can only give them a more competitive advantage.

Possible Increase in Tuition Costs?

Some colleges are beginning to place an 'excess credit' surcharge to students that take over 135 credits for a bachelor’s degree. The reason this is happening, with I have experienced first hand is stated to be the fact that many freshman students do not enter into college with a degree in mind. So many students change majors 2 to 3 time’s through out their college experience. The other factor is people whom transfer from one institution to another are loosing credits and having to fulfill different requirements. Personally, I feel the education system should have one standard no matter the state or the facility therefore following the same requirements. Theses all lead to an increased amount of classes that students have to complete. If believe that if students had more guidance upon entering college they wouldn’t have this problem, I know that if I would have had some direction I would be a semester closer than I am now.

Immigrant Workers

Alot of construction business owners like to hire immigrant workers because they'll work for less and they often work harder than the average american. An article published on businessweek has an example of a business owner who hires immigrant workers who hold a H2B Visa that allows them to work in the US for 12 months. Every year this man pays his lawyer and other fees to try to keep these workers here. The article stated that most times he ended up understaffed and had to pay regardless. I don't understand this way of thinking. These business owners think they're saving money by hiring immigrant workers but to me it sounds like its costing this guy more money and causing more stress. I know americans can be lazy and most don't want these kind of jobs but maybe they'd be more willing to work if they were paid better. I think these business owners could afford to if they can afford a lawyer to pay for immigrant workers. But what do you think?

Why Stay In Iraq Bush?

Bush recently commented that pulling out of Iraq would be a terrible mistake. In the article it states that there are 160,000 US troops fighting a war that is growing unpopular to the public everyday. Honestly, we have had our friends, our fathers, our brothers, our cousins shipped off to a war that has been going on for about 3 years! Enough! Bush claims it would be a bad idea to pull out now but maybe he needs to recap on why we should stay! The recent release of "Jarhead" the fictional film about marines' experiences of the war I think really touches base on what our soldiers are really going through. I don't think that it's worth the price of putting our soldiers through all of this!


The Housing Market on the Decline?

This article stated that according to the National Association of Realtors, the US housing market showed signs of cooling as sales of existing homes eased last month. This goes on to say that in the coming months, we should see the supply and demand even out. However, I wonder how long this will hold true. In Cedar City, the demand for buying housed decreases in the winter because of the cold weather and the snow, rather than the perfect weather of summer. It says that the rates are seasonally adjusted, and that would be great if the housing boom leveled out a little for those looking for buying homes, but it seems somewhat likely that the boom could hit once again next spring.

Are Layoffs the Answer?

Richard Clark became the new CEO for Merck, and one of his first moves was to layoff 7,000 employees to save an estimated $4 billion dollars. This may save $4 billion in payroll, but I wonder if he took into consideration to opportunity cost of losing these workers and what they were providing to the company. This company has been struggling for a little while and with a few of their main drugs about to lose patents, odds aren't looking good. This CEO is looking for ways to cut costs because of an expected decline in revenues, but cutting 7,000 workers doesn't look like the best answer to me. Merck paid over $200 million to co-develop a new diabetes drug that now seems to be dead. It looks like this CEO is trying to cut costs to save Merck, but I don’t know if this is the best move for a new CEO.

China and its growing economy

In all of my business classes, it seems like China is a popular subject to comment on. While China is enjoying our business, and its large volume of exports, we are enjoying their products, and at a much lower cost. In this China article that I read, I gained a lot of confidence in our economy, as well as China's. Although many are afraid that China is going to "take over the world", the article was quick to note that their relatively recent large boom in growth is likely to level off at some point, and that as Americans we shouldn't feel fearful. China's people are engaging in behavior that is helping them to better their lives, and if we, as Americans act similarly, we too, can have the same opportunity. I believe China is providing an incredible market for competitition, and I think that their growth and success can be a motivator for us to stay up to date, and knowledgeable about the world, and its economy.

The Downside to Franchising

For many of us our time here at SUU will be drawing to an end fairly soon. As students of business we have a few different options one of which includes being an entrepreneur. For those of you thinking about taking this route you may be interested in this article on franchising. There are a few perks to franchising, but for the most part it is a rough road to travel. As a franchisee you get all the financial exposure, headaches and stress of business ownership, but the company that has sold you the franchise collects royalties on every nickel that comes through the door, not to mention charging fees for marketing, and other fees to recoup some of the company’s overall costs, some of which offer no benefit to your individual store. The franchisor usually dictates virtually every detail of what you can do, including how you price your wares, what kinds of signs you can put up, how much overtime you may pay your employees, and who will be your suppliers. My suggestion to you is find a way to make money doing the thing you love most and start your own business from scratch. For those of you who find making out or sitting on the couch eating potato chips as your favorite thing to do I suggest reverting to the second thing you love to do most. :)


Government needs to step up with energy issues

I found an article today that did my heart good! It addressed the need for local and federal governments to implement reform in lowering the costs of energy. I believe that the government needs to take action because it is their responsibility, and duty. The high costs of energy comprise a substantial portion of Americans' incomes, and many of the inflated prices that people are being forced to pay could be reduced if the government stepped in with regulations, and price caps, etc. Energy prices are a driving force of our economy. With energy we are able to heat our homes, and drive our cars to work to make money, etc. As current energy prices stand, many are having to turn down their thermostats, and travel less. If Bush is pro big business, and carving into the land for industry and oil, in order to make money, it could also be to his benefit to help in the fight to lower energy prices. As it stands, people are having to expend funds into energy that they could be pumping into other facets of the economy, including investing to start new "big businesses", etc. So if nothing else, the Bush administration should take action for selfish reasons.

Debt Free Living Provides Freedom

As a college student, and person in America, I am continually exposed to "opportunities" to buy on credit, increase my line of credit, or buy things now without having to pay for them until later. While all of these concepts seem attractive on the surface, they have serious consequences. As I read this debt article, I learned that debt has more than just a financial impact on one's life. When people are seriously in debt for items other than the basic car, or home, etc., they also can feel the affects emotionally, with depression being a major symptom. I think that this information makes a lot of sense. If you are constantly living on "borrowed money" to get through everyday life, I believe people have the potential to feel very overwhelmed, and helpless. To me, spending less you make provides freedom from the worry, and stress of how to come up with money you don't have for items you already "bought". With costs of living as high as they are, including astronomical prices for housing, healthcare, energy, and food, etc., it is no wonder that many find themselves in debt, however with determination, and careful planning, it is possible to live within a budget, and in doing so, people will experience optimal financial, and emotional health.


Merchants are happy with Black Friday Turnout!

As Black Friday 2005 is drawing to a close, I read an article on the subject, and have been reflecting on this day of shopping madness. While I am not one of those diehards who camped out, or woke up at 3am to get a deal, I have truly benefitted from this year's Black Friday's promotions. I didn't get to stores until about 8am, but the stores I went to, Wal-Mart, and Target, were bustling with bargain-hungry shoppers and long lines, and apparently from this crowd article, my experience was not unique. In fact, many of the representatives from companies listed in the article expressed that they experienced more shoppers this Black Friday, than in years past, which signals to me, that our economy is relatively stable. While store demand definitely increases in the wake of huge discounts, and promotions, it is still reassuring to see people out in masses spending money, despite all the recent natural disasters, and hikes in energy costs, etc.

Future Problems for Detroit

The auto manufactories in Detroit have been facing a surplus of workers the last couple of years. These companies have been facing cutback after cutback laying off many skilled workers. This meant that there have been many skilled workers out of jobs waiting for the demand to increase. A new survey shows that the problem for the future of these companies won’t be a surplus of skilled workers but a shortage. Due to the history of layoffs in the industry there are fewer kids interested in the idea of working in a factory. This, combined with the fact that the Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age, means that there will be more people leaving the industry than there will be entering it. Could this lead to an increase in wages for people willing to work in the manufacturing plants?

Out of Work?

There seems to have been a rise in the number of people registering for financial aid. This is due, in part, to the disasters in the Southeast. There are many people out of work and in need of help. If this increase in unemployment continues then this could mean that there will be a bigger burden placed on those who are working. That means that overall there will be a decrease in the amount of money there is in circulation. This means that those who are receiving the help will use the money for necessities and those who make the money will have less to buy luxuries. Overall there will be a big drag in the economy.

Price Matters but May Not be the Deciding Factor

Many discounters are trying to stock their shelves with higher quality products such as high-definition TVs at extremely low prices. Many experts were staring to panic that the discounters would be able to squeeze consumer electronic retailers out of the market. But, with high end products, there may be less emphasis placed on price. This article said that “some of the cheapest prices [were] found at Wal-Mart, but product selection and presentation of the televisions at the discount retailer left much to be desired when compared to [the] experience at Best Buy and Circuit City.” This means that people may be willing to pay higher products if they feel that they are receiving a better product.

Another Benefit of the Internet

Even though diehard shoppers will still stand in lines for hours before a store opens just at a chance to get a discount on some products, Monday will be a big internet shopping day. Internet shoppers wait until Monday to make their purchases because business connections tend to be faster than those high speed connections found in homes. It has been estimated that internet purchases during this holiday season will increase 24% over those of last year. This increase is expected because most shoppers feel that they can find lower costs on the internet, even with paying shipping. The increase in price sensitivity is due to the increase in cost of heating homes, increase gas prices, and other increases of costs on necessities.

Has the Internet Increased Theft?

There is an interesting article about how a man was stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars by switching barcodes on boxes of Legos to pay a cheaper price for them. After wrongfully purchasing the Legos for a lower price he would then turn around and sell them on the internet. This man was able to make lots of money by selling his semi-stolen boxes of Legos for less then the store was selling them for. The internet has made private party sales easer which has increased the incentive to steal products for the purpose of reselling them.


Start saving now

For a couple years now I have planned to open up a savings vehicle for my (future) childrens college expenses upon their birth. After reading this article, I realized that I really do not have an option, but it is a necessity to start saving as soon as possible. The current expected expense for four years at a public school including tuition, room and board is $49,670 and $120,371 for a private school. These numbers seem huge, but are rather small in comparison to what the projected rates are in 2020. The beginning rates in 2020 are around $126,178 for public and $305,787 for private schools. Granted inflation will take place and our incomes will rise, but these growth rates far exceed the inflation rate. With this being the case, the article reitterates the importance of "jump-starting" your savings accounts and it shows the results of doing so. It is also important to start evaluating your family's financial situation at least two years before the child enters college. This is to determine how much you (the parents) can help the student financially. Overall, this article is a good reminder of being prepared and aware of changes in the future. Whether a student, manager, or consumer, we all need to stay on top of our finances in order to help promote a steady economy.

Holiday travel has huge impact on economy

As the Thanksgiving holiday draws near, the number of people traveling is up, and many industries within the field of transportation are having to accomodate the extra travelers. According to this holiday travel article, buses, trains, planes, and cars are all out in greater numbers. Despite higher flight prices, and increased traffic, those wanting to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving are still willing to fit the bill, and spend their time, in pursuit of being reunited with those they are close to. Because there is a boom in demand for transportation, be it driving, or flying, etc., some companies are able to raise their prices, while increasing demand, ultimately raising their revenues in the process. Also, while more customers, mean more potential variable costs, perhaps the large bulk of travelers enables some companies to ultimately save, and consolidate costs, shifting out revenues, and profits overall, in the long run. It is important to recognize that virtually all facets of life affect the economy, from visiting family for the holidays, to corporate stock changes, to politics, proving that all things influence the financial status of our country's, and global economy as a whole.

BlackBerry Shutdown

The ever popular BlackBerry, a U.S. mobile and email service, may be shutdown due to infringements on patents. Research In Motion (RIM) supposedly had a settlement agreement of $450 million with NTP inc., which is the holder of the patent. The settlement, however, was never finalized and they now face possible shutdown of the BlackBerry service. Again, a stupid battle over money has caused the consumer to ultimately feel the effects. Alot of people use these devices and love them and now because of some lawsuit may have to give them up. I think it's ridiculous.

Merck Lawsuits Hurting The Consumers

Merck is currently dealing with lawsuits resulting in deaths from a drug Vioxx that was recently pulled from the shelves. This being one of the reasons for their recent 7,000 job layoffs and after 6,000 more lawsuits to go more people are going to feel the effects. Everyone wants a claim on Merck's money and they want to give Merck 'what they deserve'. But after so many lawsuits the payouts are going to be coming out of their research and development fund. Meaning no more money to find better prescription medicines to treat illness. Also, this may lead to further job cuts and it has already driven their stock prices down 70%. Point of the story is, these lawsuits are going to effect more than just Merck, it's going to effect the consumers as well.

Oil in the North Pole?

Global warming is slowly causing the polar cap to melt in the North Pole, supposedly by the end of the century the Artic Ocean will be open water for the first time in prehistory. The article published by Newsweek talks about possible abundance of oil and natural gas being uncovered when this happens. This has Canada and Denmark in a scramble to claim the land because of it's potential hidden wealth. The idea sounds ludicrous to me, if global warming does become that serious we're going to have more problems than just filling our oil reserves. I am definitely not a science major so I don't have a good grasp on the real effects of global warming but this article scared me more than it intrigued me. But what are your thoughts?

Secret US-run Prisons in Europe

The Associated Press published an article about the recent rumors of the CIA transporting terrorism suspects to Europe where they are imprisoned and interrogated. Supposedly, the CIA has been suspected of holding such prisons in other countries because it would be illegal to do so in the US. Demands for the Bush administration to give answers have been dodged and I believe the people will never really know the truth. My thoughts are that these type of things go on all the time, it's probably best for society not to know the truth about what really goes on. I think that's its a great idea...... I don't know why it has to be Europe, but all the same those terrorists deserve what they're getting. If they have to go to another country to serve justice then so be it!

Mortgage Rates Dropping?

Mortgage rates have been at an all time high making it even more difficult for home buyers to purchase their homes. The most recent report shows rates at 6.28 which is down from 6.37. Check out mortgage rates. Hopefully this will be the new trend and ease future home buyers worries. It's a relief to hear some relatively good news when it comes to the real estate market.


Minimum payments on the rise

Recently credit card companies have raised the minimum monthly payment. This is in effort to help the consumers get out of debt. Yet, those most impacted by this (which need the most help) feel like they are being cheated. I feel that an attorney in the article who is fighting for the consumers makes a statement that actually proves the point at hand when he said, "Lots of people are going to find themselves in serious trouble because many people don't have the discipline to handle consumer debt." How correct Koplen is! That is precisely the problem. People get these credit cards and somehow get the idea that they have "free money." So they start spending without thinking of how they are going to repay the debt. I think credit cards are good, but they definitely require discipline. Also, by helping people get out of debt, we are essentially helping our economy. The fewer bankruptcies filled, the stronger the morale in society.
An immediate result of this rise in montly payments is that consumers are using alternate forms of payment at the registers. The numbers of people relying on credit cards is expected to fall from last year's 29.5 percent to 28.2. So with that in mind, will the new minimums have a negative impact on the credit card companies? I highly doubt it!

Tis' the season to be debt free

As we face the upcoming holiday season, merchants see dollar signs, and consumers face an endless array of opportunities to utilize their cash, or plastic. One of my favorite sources for financial advice is Suze Orman, and in her Holiday spending article, she tackles the issue of spending more than you make during the holidays. She mentioned some simple tips to help fight the urge to excessively spend. She brought up the recent policy changes that have raised the minimum credit card payment to 4% of the balance, which is twice what it was, and she also suggested that you simply only buy gifts that you currently have money to pay for. She also demonstrated how if someone used the equivalent amount of money that they would've been charged as credit card interest, and invested it, how much better off they would be. Suze's advice is very practical, and wise regardless of when you are purchasing goods or services, and if people could start incorporating these basic principles into their lives, the financial status for households, and society would be healthier as a result.


Consumer Spending

I read an article concerning the likelihood of consumer spending falling in 2006. The main reason for this is a decrease in the housing market. A recent trend has been for homeowners to refinance their home and then take the money made in doing so and spend it on whatever they would like. However, with the interest rates raising, refinancing is not as appealing as before. Another reason for the prediction of consumer spending falling in the near future, is that income levels are not growing as quickly as before, therefore employees are making less money. When they make less money, then they have less money to put back into the market. Overall, this report was somewhat pessimistic. One positive point was that the labor industry is adding approximately 180,000 jobs every month. I wonder if this is taking the relief efforts of Katrina into consideration. Even if that is the case, it is still a good thing being that it reduces the unemployment rate. By reducing the unemployment rate, the country's morale is boosted. Despite the slowing real estate market (on a national level), I believe that there are plenty of other avenues one can take in order to make sufficient funds to keep pumping money into the market.

GM to Cut Costs Through Layoffs

GM has announced that it will eliminate 30,000 manufacturing jobs this month in hopes to eliminate costs and avoid bankruptcy. The layoff represents 27 percent of the companies manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and will achieve $7 billion in costs reductions by the end of 2006. GM has been crippled by high labor, pension, health care and materials costs as well as by sagging demand for sport utility vehicles, its longtime cash cows, and by bloated plant capacity. Its market share has been eroded by competition from Asian automakers led by Toyota Motor Corp. GM lost nearly $4 billion in the first nine months of this year. Downsizing in this manner can have both positive and negative impacts. These decisions negatively affect the company’s employees and the communities in which they live and work. This is a good example of a business decision that while hurting some people will result in large benefits in the long-run.


Possible Internet Changes

The internet has opened up the global market tremendously. It has made communication a breeze and has aided in the development of thousands, if not millions of businesses. There is an issue at hand that may create some major changes in the interent. The issue is internet goverance. The internet has been overseen by ICAAN since 1988. This is a multinational group, but the U.S. representatives dominate it. Lately, there have been various proposals concerning how to oversee the internet. One of which is that it states that all governments should have "an equal role and responsibility for Internet governance and for ensuring the stability, security and continuity of the Internet..." On paper this sounds great, but how will it impact the global market in practice. I believe that the internet needs to remain as is. In its current state, it has proven to be an extremely effective tool for conducting business all around the world. By making changes to it, there will be both positive and negative consequences;I fear the negative will outweigh the positive.

XBox 360, Upgrade or Downgrade?

The new Xbox 360 is scheduled to be released onto the market this week, but those coming in the first shipment have already been sold out. For those of you who can’t wait to get out of class to spend hours in front of the big screen hunting down your roommates in a game of Halo you might want to think twice before you go out and purchase the new Xbox system. There are two versions of the system, the hard drive-less "core" system for $299 and the premium package for $399. But those who buy the lower-cost version are in for a surprise — they won't be able to play any of the Xbox games they already own. There are many hidden costs in getting the full advantage from the new Xbox 360 such as needing a high definition TV to enjoy the ability of the systems amazing graphics. By the time you’re done getting all of the right accessories you may be looking at nearly a thousand dollars. The system has a very limited game selection and won’t play many of the old games from the previous system. I say if you want a game system go out and get the old Xbox or PS2, save yourself hundreds of dollars, and use the extra money for a good cause this holiday season.

Bird Flu

Since late in 2003 the number of people infected by the Bird Flu is now 130 while 67 have died. I find it scary that this disease is spreading across the world so quickly. The first human case of this disease was announced in China just a few days ago and it makes me wonder...who's next? China is the fifith country to announce deaths from the flu, and there is a rising suspicion that this may cause a human influenza pandemic. Which in the long run may result in as many as seven and a half million deaths. I guess maybe I'm weird, but I just want to know what the deal is? First we have Mad Cow Disease and now the Bird Flu. What's wrong with all the animals?


Bush/Cheney need to grow up

After reading several articles surrounding this topic, I felt compelled to write about it today. The issue concerning me is Bush, and Cheney's recent bout of remarks centered around attacking their critics, to which I say, grow up. In this Cheney article that I found, Cheney claimed that democrats were criticizing the Iraq war to gain political favor, and because of memory loss. Has he ever thought for one moment that critics of the war in Iraq have a point, and a God-given right to make their feelings known? Aside from the thousands of American soldiers that have given their lives to fight this on-going war, billions of dollars of the United State's tax payers' money is being used to finance it, and I would be very worried, and alarmed if citizens in opposition just rolled over and played dead. We should have some voice in where our hard earned money is being thrown, and personally, Iraq's killing field isn't getting my vote. Why is it that the top leaders of our country are so opposed to people of all backgrounds, and philosophies having some type of feeling? This isn't an issue of right, or left wing views, this is a humanitarian, and economic issue, and Bush and Cheney need to understand that people have valid, genuine concerns, not just some hidden political agenda to pursue.

Consumer Prices Rise

Consumer prices rose 0.2 percent this month, primarily due to the rise in housing costs which were up 0.9 percent last month. The 0.9 increase is the largest increase since January 2001. Consumer prices have increased 4.3 percent this year while inflation is remaining at a steady pace of 2.1 percent. Gasoline prices have been favorable, falling 4.5 percent last month, helping to keep consumer prices from rising even more. Other prices also rose in October. Food costs increased 0.3 percent while medical care prices rose 0.5 percent and the cost of services increased 0.7 percent, the Labor Department said. With fairly small increases in consumer prices things should continue to balance out for the economy. With gas prices becoming more reasonable I’ll be spending less money throughout the rest of the year so there’s only one thing that can mean, it’s time to go buy my new snowboard and lift pass. As you can tell it takes very little for me to justify my purchases, but what the hell, at least I’m spending and helping stimulate the economy.


U.S. Colleg Drop-out Rate

For more than a decade it has been America’s higher education leaders’ goal to get more students into college. Now there are many people wondering why when there are so many students who do not finish with a degree. Only about 54 percent of students who enter a four year college have a degree within six years. After these students borrow money to go to school and then don’t finish often wind up worse off than before they attended college. The article is putting the blame on high school and on the students themselves. I disagree. I think that those two factors have a lot to do with it, but I think that the values you were raised with and how much emphasis your family puts on how important education is has a lot to do with it as well. I know that in my family education is very important. Everyone in my family graduated from college, even my grandparents. I have a lot of friends who chose not to go to college and most of their siblings and/or parent chose not to go either.

Escape Convicts

I was reading this article about the two men who escaped from the Iowa State Penitentiary. I can’t believe that our penitentiaries are not more secure. This is the second prison break in the last month. There are killers out on the loose! I just don’t understand why we pay so much money to pay for these facilities and they are not functioning effectively. I think that it would be cheaper and more effective in the long run to build more rehabilitation centers and try to clean these people up than to lock them up like animals. So many people come out of prison worse off than when they entered. What do you think?

Justice Dept. Proposes Tougher Copyright Laws

A new bill that is being drafted by the Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales is proposing stiffer punishments for those who copy and distribute copyrighted materials such as much, movies, and television shows. This new bill would allow the seizure of assets and materials used in the process as well as allow for larger fines than currently allowed. This bill has not yet reached congress but it is already stirring up controversy. A consumer-rights advocacy group called, “Public Knowledge, said the Justice Department should consider measures that would protect consumers' fair-use rights as well.” I am getting sick and tired of the continuing push to screw the consumer. I hope this bill is not passed and I hope that consumer rights will be upheld. What do you guys think, since this especially concerns our generation?

China to Vaccinate 14 Billion Birds

With new concerns about the bird flu, China has announced that it will vaccinate 14 billion birds in its country in hopes to keep the flu from devastating its poultry industry. This will not be a cheap move for the Chinese but having already destroyed nearly 300,000 birds because of the flu they do not want to take any more risks. Currently they are undersupplied to accomplish this task but their suppliers are gearing up to finish the job. Reading this article makes me wonder what we as a nation are doing to protect ourselves from this flu. Are we doing anything to protect our poultry? Personally I eat a lot of chicken and turkey and if all of a sudden we had to destroy large amounts of them drastically raising prices, I’m not sure what I’d eat. Although, there are a lot of other things that taste like chicken so maybe I wouldn’t be as bad off as I was thinking.

Sony BMG Suspends Copy-Protection Software

Sony BMG has recently suspended copy-protection software it had been encoding on all of its cds. This software would only allow the consumer to make a certain amount of copies and transfers before the software would kick in and disable the user from copying or transferring music owned by Sony BMG. Part of the reason is that this software was allowing hackers the ability access to user’s computers through different types of viruses. I personally think that the copy-protection software is a joke anyway. I think that Sony is being too anal about its music and in the long run is going to create a lot of unhappy customers that will look elsewhere for music. At least in the short run this is a problem we don’t have to worry about.

1 Square Inch of Land for Sale at $1,500

I just thought that this article was pretty funny. At the price of $1,500 per square inch, this piece of land in southwest Indiana is some of the priciest real estate in the world. Yes, I said the world. First of all, even after reading this article I fail to understand why this piece is so pricey. Let’s just hope that this doesn’t spread to our backyard.

Are Newspapers Now Old News

Recently newspaper subscriptions to several of the nation’s largest newspapers have had huge reductions in demand for delivery of their papers. The San Francisco Chronicle saw circulation fall 17 percent for its Wednesday to Saturday editions, while another big beast of the newspaper jungle, the Boston Globe, slumped 8.2 percent to a weekday average of 414,225. The author explains that there are two main reasons for the trends. One, is that the new generations don’t like the old-fashioned newspapers. They prefer to get the news either from the internet, the blogesphere, or from TV. They also cite inaccuracies and the loss of trust as another reason that subscriptions have fallen. With recent news scandals and made up stories it’s no wonder that readers are loosing faith in the printed news. I know I personally, rarely look or even read a newspaper, including the school paper. It will be interesting to see how the world will get it’s news in the future concerning whatever subject.

Fees Just For Driving in Manhattan

Manhattan has been recently considering charging all drivers that enter their city a flat fee just to be able to drive around town. Driving conditions have become so bad that the city has been looking for some kind of solution. London currently has a similar program already in place and it has drastically reduced their traffic problems. By charging drivers a fee, this would encourage car pooling and the use of public transportation. I went to Manhattan a couple of summers ago and I was told by one of the tour guides that everyday one million cars enter Manhattan and fight for only half a million parking spots, so I can defiantly understand the need and want for a change. By increasing the price of driving demand should fall. Do you guys think this is fair?

China’s New Business Strategy; Spying

It has recently been reported that the British MI5 suspect that the Chinese have been, and currently are spying on their businesses. The spying seems to be mainly focused on scientific and high-tech developments. The authorities are not sure how deep they spying goes, but they know that the threat is continuing to increase. Some of the spying is coming from old fashioned ways of sending in spies undercover, while some British companies are so anxious to get their business into China that they are willing to give away technologies and secrets that aren’t allowed to be shared. After the Cold War I thought the days of spying were over, however it appears that spying has only shifted its focus.

An American Icon About to Be Lost

Crippled by debt of over $276 billion dollars and problems with selling its cars, the world’s largest auto maker is nearing bankruptcy. Some analysts are predicting that GM could file for bankruptcy protections within the next 12 months. Their bonds have already been lowered to below junk status, which is not a good sign to invest in GM. Enormous health care obligations to its workers and competition from foreign car companies are beginning to cripple the world’s largest auto maker. China has recently announced that it will enter the automobile market in the near future. If China is able to produce a quality car, clearly at a much lower cost GM will have even more problems then they been expecting. I think it is sad to see an American icon on the verge of being lost, but as they say that’s business.

Housing Affordability

According to the NAR (National Association of Realtors) the average price of a starter home has rose $23, 500 nationally in the past year. To even apply for a mortgage your income needs to exceed $47,952 a year, but the median income of a typical first-time buyer is only $32,781. That does not include the 10% down payment. To add to the problem the interest rates have also gone up from 5.53 percent to 6.3 percent. This may not sound that bad, but it adds about $100 a month to a $999 mortgage payment. I am not happy about this at all, because my husband is preparing to be a high school teacher and we all know what their income is like.

Price Gouging

Recently the oil industry reported record profits for the last year. I saw that and was furious. In a time where all you hear about is the outrageous gas prices, the oil industry reported a record gain. Then I read this article and my thinking became more rationalized. We are taught daily in business classes that the main purpose of business is to maximize profits. That is just what the oil industry did. In a time where the demand for oil is high, the oil company took advantage of the market. If there was no demand for the product the price would not be as high. It was a smart business move by the oil industry and all we can do is deal with it.

Gas Prices Continue to Fall

I think just about everybody has noticed the change in gas prices over the last few weeks. How could you not? Gas prices reached at a record high for the month of September due to the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. There was really only one way they could go and that was down. Now that the gas prices are now below $2.50, are consumers going to be willing to buy more gas? The answer is yes. Consumers have a tendency to forget the past and focus on the present. The fact that gas is still nearly 33 cents higher than it was last year is almost irrelevant to consumers. The only way that prices will steadily continue to fall is if the demand for the product actually fell, but as we all know this will not happen with the price of gas falling the way it is. I am not complaining. I love cheaper gas as much as the next person, but as a whole we are always going to pay higher prices for gas than in the past.

No Saints in New Orleans?

I know that everyone is tired of hearing all the problems the hurricanes have caused, but this is something I find interesting. It has been in the news lately that Tom Benson has been looking to move the New Orleans' Saints to another city. This makes perfect business sense. The city has been destroyed and it will be years before people will be able to afford tickets and other merchandise. But there are many people out there who are saying that Benson is not doing the right thing. They argue that he is abandoning a city that needs their team now more than ever. What is a business person to do?

Are We in Trouble with China?

The United States are in trouble when it comes to trade. The article I found explains that our trade deficit has hit an all-time high. Of course, the hurricanes which have hit the Southeast haven’t helped any, making the U.S. import more oil than we would of if they wouldn’t have hit. Critics are also blaming a big part of our problem on some of the practices which China uses in their trading. I guess that the U.S. should take the attitude of; if you can’t beat them, join them. We should find someway to use China’s practices against them. Well what ever we do, we better do something quick before our deficit gets totally out of control.

Land for sale on the moon?

Today I came across an article that was truly "out of this world". According the moon article, Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics Science and Technology Co., in China sold 49 moon acres, but has just come under fire from Chinese officials. While this seems crazy to me, who's to say that up the road people won't be able to buy their own little piece of "moon shine". Will there be a market for universal matter? Will the demand be inelastic, and will people be willing to put a price on something so one-of-a-kind? This article may seem unbelievable, but who knows what lie ahead.


Wal-Mart continues to improve its profits

Despite natural disasters that have occured throughout the nation, and even having countless stores shut down because of the disasters, Wal-Mart has pulled through, making a 3.8% increase in profits, according to this Wal-Mart article. While the holiday season is approaching, and Wal-Mart is hoping to capitalize handsomely, they are also trying to focus on the emergence of some of their new products, including stylish clothing, and home electronics. I think this is smart, because while nearly all companies expect their sales to boom during the holidays, it is important to constantly seek out new ways to keep a hold in the market place. In the case of Wal-Mart, perhaps they haven't been as known for their sleek clothing, or quality technological products, but who's to say that won't change? Wal-Mart has made billions because of their marketing genius in offering low prices, and supplier bargaining power, and I believe that they have the potential to propel to an even higher place in the market with their continued focus on clothing, and electronics.

Trade restrictions need to be lifted

I believe that because we can trade with nations around the globe we are able to enjoy more products at better prices. That being said, today I read an article discussing how Tony Blair feels that wealthier nations should help promote trade by lessening restrictions among other poorer, and developing countries. Through making trade less restrictive, not only will developing nations have greater opportunity for economic gains, but they will also have more of a chance for a greater quality of life. I think that Tony Blair is speaking out in a great way! In addition to improving the state of world poverty, Blair also commented that taking these actions could help in the fight against terrorism. I completely agree with Blair, and I think that he is wise to make such recommendations. By relaxing regulations, and barriers to trade, countries have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. If this could start happening more, markets would be exposed to greater competition, and consumers would have more selection, at better prices, and more people throughout the globe could have a greater capacity to make a living. I believe that it is only a matter of time before these types of actions will be taken with full force, and I look forward to seeing how the global economy will increasingly thrive as a result.

What do Birds Have to do With the Economy

There are some that are worried that the bird flu pandemic could cause recession in Asia. Their idea is that many people will become sick which means that they won’t be able to work and make money. Also many others will die leaving a hole in their work force. This will mean that fewer products can be produced and that there will be less currency to be circulated. This article explains many of the effects that the pandemic can have on an economy.

Delta Airlines Pilot Strike Understandable

Delta Airline pilots are planning to strike should their employment contracts be rejected through the bankruptcy hearing. Delta states that at this point they don’t know if this act of 6,000 people walking off the job is legal or not. Delta is currently determining whether or not they have to ability to obtain a court order to stop the employees from perusing this action. The second disturbing issue is the concern over the defined benefit pension plan and if this plan is going to continue when Delta emerges from chapter 11. There are many employees that have dedicated their entire careers to Delta and for a corporation to eliminate its allegiance towards the employee after years and years of loyalty, in my opinion is immoral.


Health Food Trend

With so many Americans suffering from heart disease, obesity, and other health problems, many are looking for healthier dietary alternatives. While, health stores, and other specialty shops can offer some better choices for the health conscious, many mainstream food companies are starting to promote their own health oriented product within the walls of normal grocery stores, and are very aware of the profit potential that exists within the health food market. According to this health article, the health foods market has the potential to be a multi-billion dollar industry, and food companies are eager to gain a share of this market. Aside from the issue of trends in healthier foods, I beleive offering a differentiated product can have the potential to bring about large opporunities for profit in business. At this point, perhaps consumers are slightly more inelastic when it comes to what they are willing to pay for healthier foods, but as more companies start to offer similar products, the price elasticity may become more elastic, demonstrating how a product can change from being more exclusive, to more of a comparable good, because of the emergence of many companies offering similar products.

GM in trouble

General Motors has been facing some major issues this past year. The outrageous gas prices killed its forcasts on sales of trucks and SUVs. This was unfortunate due to how much money GM had put into these two lines recently. However this is not necessarily the company's biggest concern. GM is trying to rewrite its health care benefits. According to a new plan, GM would be able to cut $3 billion a year (pretax) for hourly retirees. This would result in an annual savings of $1 billion/year. This would be extremely beneficial and may even assist in saving the "life" of GM considering the $1.3 billion lost in the past quarter. To top off the company's struggles, its stock hit a 23-year low last week at $22.74/share. When facing such issues, I believe it to be of great importance to bring in economists and have them do studies which will assist in the decision making process. Accountants and financial workers will know what needs to happen concerning the financial side, but an economist can help the company see consumer trends which will point the company in the right direction concerning the production of a product that will sell.


Kids need more sleep.

I read a sleep deprivation article today that described a correlation between school performance, and sleep. The study described in the article observed children up to 12 years, old, and highlighted that children much more difficulty in school in the areas of concentration, and performance, etc, when they hadn't had enough sleep. While this news isn't that surprising, I started thinking that adults probably suffer in similar ways. In today's fast paced society, people are constantly moving, multi-tasking, and trying to "do it all", and often sleep is at the bottom of the list. As college students, sleep deprivation is a normal part of life, but is trying to cram in so much really the best? I wonder if all the timely requirements people have to endure are really doing more harm than good. Perhaps if life could slow down a little bit, children and adults could get a little more quality, and a little less quantity, and could retain more knowledge. If people could have a little less going on in their lives, I believe performance in all areas of life could improve, whether it be in school, work, or at home with our families. Anyway, just a little thought, sweet dreams!


China's trade surplus is growing!

While it is no mystery that China has experienced a large trade surplus, according to a surplus article that I read, they are at a level of trade surplus approximately 5 billion dollars higher than they were last year, at this same time. Although some of the recent hikes in China's trade surplus can be attributed an increase in the purchase of products for the upcoming holiday season, some believe it has to do with China's currency situation. Whatever the reason, it is becoming evident that China's level of trade surplus is longer a rising trend, but a seemingly new way of doing business. From an economic standpoint, it must make sense for companies to import goods from China, otherwise, China wouldn't be at such a trade surplus. While it is obviously advantageous from a financial standpoint for companies to purchase products from China, some worry that certain jobs, and demand for U.S. products, etc. could be wiped away. So, despite, the pros that are associated with having a trading relationship with China, it is also important to consider what other possible effects could come to pass as a result.

Grokster Gone

Another online trading service is no longer avialable. This article discusses how the online trading industry continues to develop and that when one service is closed, another one is well on its way. The part in the article that deals with managerial economics is when profit maximization is discussed. Lang believes that the entertainment industry should not try to maximize profit too early. Rather the industry needs to do more research and figure out how to get and stay ahead of the demand in the downloading market. In doing so, the industry will have the ball in their court, versus playing defense. Concerning this concept Lang described the industry as becoming one that is "...always reacting, rather than shaping the business." As a manager, I believe, we need to be forcasting trends and finding ways to optimize our performance; not reading reports and playing catch-up.

Bush Receiving Very Little Support from His Church

As a member of the United Methodist Church, President Bush has received very little support from Bishops within the church. Ninety-five bishops from the church said Thursday they repent their "complicity" in the "unjust and immoral" invasion and occupation of Iraq. Although United Methodist leadership has opposed the Iraq war in the past, this is the first time that individual bishops have confessed to a personal failure to publicly challenge the buildup to the war. I find this absurd that these Bishops stand against the President of our country who is a member of their church. They claim that the real need is to tend to those in Iraq who are starving and living in poverty, but isn’t that why we went there to overthrow a dictatorship ran by a leader that was the cause of so many problems. The people of Iraq will have opportunities that they couldn’t even imagine when Saddam was in power. The Bishops also stated that going to war over the September 11th attacks was wrong and didn’t solve the real problem. My question to them is what were we supposed to do, go to Afghanistan and apologize that we had made them mad enough to attack us and throw some money to them to help their poverty stricken people. Whether I support the full purpose of the war or not, I realize that men and women much more intelligent than me are running this country and seem to be doing a pretty good job at it. I think these Methodist Bishops need to rethink for their statement and realize that criticizing the members of their church who pay for those nice cars and big houses they have isn’t very Christian like.:)