The bungled rollout of the federal health care website appears to already be taking a toll on Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014, but some have managed to stay ahead of the bad news.
After one senior supervisor allegedly left a bullet behind in a woman's hotel room, an investigation led to alleged sexually suggestive emails he and another agent sent to a female agent.
President's Obama choice to lead the Federal Reserve faces the first of her confirmation hearings this morning. The questions today come from members of the Senate Banking Committee. Janet Yellen said this morning that the Federal Reserve still “has more work to do," which some hear as a vote for keeping the stimulus going.
Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics in Washington, is not among that crowd.
"I think that's people looking for what they want to see," she says. "That sentence indicates clear openness to more accommodation, which we knew she would. But it is totally non-committal, and, of course, that's totally on purpose."
Petrou says that with such crucial issues at stake, like jobs for Americans and the health of the economy, Yellen has no choice but so say there's "more work to do" for the Federal Reserve.
"That's why Ms. Yellen is saying there's more work to do, because how could she or anyone at the Fed be satisfied with the condition of the economy right now?"
Janet Yellen, President Obama's nominee to head the Federal Reserve, has her confirmation hearing Thursday. Before she spoke, there was word that the number of first-time claims filed for jobless benefits fell only slightly last week.
The Canadian province has proposed a "secularism charter" that would ban government workers from wearing religious symbols. Supporters say it would preserve gender equality and the separation of church and state. Critics say the measure curbs religious freedom. The issue has echoes of a debate that's played out in France twice in the past decade.
Venezuela has a terrible inflation problem. Consumer prices jumped 54 percent last month alone, inflation rose above 50 percent for the first time since Hugo Chavez took power in 1999. President Nicolás Maduro blames a conspiracy of what he calls "hoarding and speculation" by rivals who want to bring down his Chavez-legacy government, and he's taken some dramatic steps to turn the problem around.
"Instead of using monetary policies to combat inflation, he says he's going to prohibit it," says Marketplace contributor and Univision anchor Enrique Acevedo. "He's calling in the military and police forces to basically occupy stores in industries like textiles or toys -- slashing the prices 70, 80 percent off so people can get anything from plasma TVs to washing machines."
Maduro took the unprecedented step of ordering Venezuela's military to take over appliance stores and force down prices. As a result, Venezuelans looking to take advantage of bargains formed blocks-long lines in front of the stores. It wasn't long before looting and pandemonium broke out.
"In an economy that's struggling to get anything from flour to milk, people thought it was Christmas in November, basically," Acevedo says.
A central part of the underlying problem in Venezuela are strict the controls on foreign currency exchange. The bolívar is officially 6.3 to the dollar, but because dollars are only available through official government channels, a black market has flourished. Prices in stores are often geared to the black market price.
"The country, which devalued the bolívar by 32 percent in February has been unable to arrest that decline, even on the black market," Acevedo says.
The timing of Maduro's populist appeal could have something to do with upcoming mayoral elections across Venezuela scheduled for next month.
"I think they use the economy, they use conflict to gain political advantage at the polls, and the opposition in Venezuela has denounced this," Acevedo says. "If I had to say, I'd say it's a hundred percent political."
The Affordable Care Act's low enrollment data and continued website problems stoked worries for the program... Being an Obama cabinet secretary requires a thick skin... Losing credibility doesn't have to mean losing presidential effectiveness.
The New York Times says the bank paid the daughter of China's premier about $1.8 million from 2006 to 2008. JPMorgan has not been accused of wrongdoing, but U.S. authorities are looking at that relationship as part of a wider investigation into alleged bribery.
MACON, Ga. – Just because a business is dying doesn’t make it dead; if there’s a little water left in a sponge, you can bet someone will wring it for all it's worth. For instance, there are still people who make a living selling typewriters.
We’re talking about the electronic business typewriters that remain favored by law offices, funeral parlors, and anybody else who has to fill out lots of forms or make labels.
Nicole Goyette works for a small business services company that handles a lot of tax paperwork they prefer to do on a typewriter. “We also have a lady that comes in and does our filing for us -- and she is of the, um, older generation, which I affectionately call ‘alumni,’” she said, laughing. “And she’s also more comfortable using the typewriter.”
The problem is almost nobody makes them anymore. IBM got out of the typewriter business two decades ago and now only Nakajima in Japan is still going.
So, Goyette brought her company’s old Brother machine to Progressive Methods in Decatur, Ga. for a refit. The repair cost $37.50 -- small potatoes, said Progressive Methods owner Jim Riegert. His real bread and butter is in the warehouse.
“So we’ve got 2,000 or so IBM typewriters, Wheelwriter typewriters,” Riegert said as pointed to a seemingly endless stack of beige boxes, reminiscent of the last scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
“This is our core business for Typewriters.com,” Riegert said. His company sells about 1,500 of these models -- refurbished -- every year from their website with its valuable domain name. The little nine-person shop at Progressive Methods accounts for about a third of the domestic typewriter market, he estimated.
The particular IBM Wheelwriter design in which Riegert specializes was introduced in 1985 -- a classic that never really needed updating. “This one is really nice because it’s easy to change the ribbon and the correction tape,” Riegert said.
Except, they’re getting tougher to find.
Riegert has a whole network of guys across the Southeast who snatch them up from estate sales and business liquidation auctions. He has just invested in a state-of-the-art 3D printer to make the spare parts he needs.
The historical irony is just too good.