The latest version of the DISCLOSE Act, which would force donor disclosure on outside organizations that engage in election politics, is facing now-familiar opposition from Republican lawmakers.
The legislation would require any politically active group that spends more than $10,000 to list its donors.
A new book claims the organic label can't be trusted, especially on food that's imported. Yet there is a global system for verifying the authenticity of organic food, and it mostly seems to work.
Not to pick on GM, but it does bear a mention that the company issued another recall today. More than 700,000 vehicles.
That brings the total number of cars and trucks General Motors wants back — just for this year — to 28.77 million.
To put that in perspective, GM alone is close to breaking the record 30.8 million vehicles recalled industry-wide in 2004.
This being capitalism, GM shares are off a percent today.
Target, the big box retailing giant, keeps trying to wedge its offerings into smaller and smaller stores. The company has already made a play for urban customers with its scaled down CityTarget stores. But even those will be five times as big as the new TargetExpress store that opened on Wednesday, in a Minneapolis neighborhood called Dinkytown.
TargetExpress offers some of the same items like electronics, baby bibs and groceries that are for sale in the larger Target stores. But there's just a lot less of them—about 1/5 as many items.
The clothing options include basics like socks and underwear.
"You have no quarters for laundry, here you go,” says Target spokeswoman Erika Winkels.
The TargetExpress in Dinkytown will cater to college students from the nearby University of Minnesota and other urbanites who need to do convenience shopping.
“It's these fill-in trips, trips in between the big stock-up trips; that is the biggest opportunity in retail right now,” says Carol Spieckerman, president and CEO of newmarketbuilders, a retail strategy firm.
Graphic by Gina Martinez & Shea Huffman/Marketplace
Spieckerman says Target and Wal-Mart, which are both trying out small formats, can use the mini stores to connect shoppers to inventory not available in-store. A tablet in the TargetExpress lets shoppers search for products and buy them online.
But for customer Josh Egge, the TargetExpress's value is its location. He manages a rental property near the new store and wants to tell potential tenants there are grocery options nearby.
“In the past, I've had to tell them walk five blocks and take a bus an extra two miles. So this will be really nice,” he says.
Target says it plans to open four more TargetExpress stores next year.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the table included listed the incorrect number of Super Targets. The graphic has been corrected.
Cash, assets, money. Businesses in the U.S. have a lot of it these days.
$16.4 trillion of it, in fact.
"The ratio of assets to GDP is almost 100 percent," says Joel Prakken, co-founder of Macroeconomic Advisers. "That’s very, very high."
To translate: every dollar spent in the U.S. economy in a year, businesses are holding in cash or securities.
It’s a lot of money, but it’s not necessarily a reflection of a healthy economy. Not all of it was earned here in the U.S., a lot was earned abroad.
“We’ve had very modest economic growth over the last four years and I don’t expect that to change any time soon,” says Scott Wren, senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors.
And those gargantuan levels of cash and assets aren’t being spent creating corresponding levels of jobs. In previous recoveries, monthly job creation has averaged up to 500,000 positions, but the current recovery is mustering a mere 200,000 consistently.
One reason is the enduring hangover from the Great Recession.
“A lot of businesses felt like the U.S. economy was ready to roll over into another recession,” says Wren. Caution and fear do not promote hiring. Things like business sentiment are improving, but it’s unlikely the country will see consistent economic growth above 3 percent until after 2016.
But that's only part of the story. It turns out businesses are trying to hire a little bit. “There were 4.6 million open jobs in May of this year,” points out Matt Slaughter, Dean of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. That’s an increase of 700,000 over the past year.
But firms are running into trouble filling those open positions. They’re so desperate that yearly quotas for hiring high-skilled immigrants filled up in four days with a record number of applications, says Slaughter. “Companies are not finding the right kind of technical or other skills they need to fill some of the jobs they are looking to hire for.”
But maybe there is a bigger explanation, one that many economists including Slaughter, Prakken, and Larry Summers are talking about. Maybe higher corporate profits and lower employment are the new normal.
It’s possible that “the nature of capital investments is gradually changing,” says Prakken.
For many years, a new technology or capital investment might destroy some jobs, but create many new ones. The computer, for example, reduced clerical positions initially, but resulted in an explosion of other jobs over time.
Perhaps, though, we are entering a new era of capital investment, “one which destroys the demand for labor without creating parallel opportunities for displaced workers,” says Prakken.
Although the FAA has banned American companies from flying to Israel, potentially dangerous countries like Sudan, Chad, Pakistan and Niger only have warnings.
Michael Boyd, President of Boyd Group International, an aviation industry consulting firm that works with big carriers, says airlines consider many factors when deciding where to fly.
“Airlines don’t make that decision alone,” he says.
Take the case of Malaysian flight MH17, recently shot down over Ukraine. Lots of entities were involved in the decision to let the plane fly there, notes Boyd. Bodies like Eurocontrol – Europe’s answer to air traffic controllers.
“There were over 400 airplanes the prior week that did the same flight – not a problem," says Boyd. "So there was no strong indication that there was a threat at that point in time.”
And when a route is potentially dangerous Boyd says the U.S. Department of State issues warnings. As a result, passengers don’t want to fly, so airlines cancel flights.
Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst with Atmosphere Research, says the decision about where and when to fly can be much more complex.
“It may be political relationships between the countries. It may be commercial ties between the countries. It may be that while carriers from certain countries are not welcome, carriers from other countries will be welcome," he says.
If airlines have to fly around problem regions Harteveldt says they have to be sure they can accommodate additional flying time as well as costs for fuel and crew. Like pilots who, he notes, have the right to question the safety of destinations. But if one pilot won’t take a flight, an airline can look for another who will.
“Airlines are commercial businesses – they’re there to earn a profit for their investors, as well as provide safe transportation,” he says.
And safety is what a couple of the big carriers say is their top priority. Like American Airlines - it has canceled upcoming flights to Tel Aviv.
First, says Harteveldt, airlines rely on government authorities, like the FAA, to provide either guidance or edicts on what they should do. They may also rely on other intelligence data that they obtain through private parties like independent companies providing security intelligence. But lastly says Harteveldt, there's one final resource airlines turn to:
"They use common sense."