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March 31, 2008

Starbucks again sued over tips

Filed under: money — Tags: , , — Snowman @ 3:30 pm

Another former Starbucks employee is suing over the way the coffee chain store divides up tips.

Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500) is already planning to appeal a California judge’s order that it pay $100 million in tips and interest because supervisors shared in the tips given to baristas. And on Wednesday another state lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts.

Now a Minnesota lawsuit accuses Starbucks of the same thing. It says Starbucks broke a Minnesota law that prohibits employers from requiring employees to share tips fast cash advance. The lawsuit claims that some of those who shared in the tips were supervisors.

Starbucks says its baristas and shift supervisors share tips because they all provide the same customer service. They’re all hourly employees. Starbucks says store managers do not get tips.

The Minnesota case is in Washington County and seeks class-action status. 

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March 29, 2008

Dallas-Fort Worth tops population growth

Filed under: finance — Tags: , — Snowman @ 2:54 am

More people moved to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, than to any other metropolitan area in the United States last year.

The population there increased by 162,250 between July 1, 2006, and July 1, 2007, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report. Atlanta, Phoenix and Houston also saw their ranks swell by more than 100,000 people each.

The census measures metro areas with the biggest population increases, as well as the fastest-growing metro areas.

But the survey actually shows slower growth compared to previous years, according to William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

"The big story in these numbers is that they are putting the breaks on the fast growth," said Frey. The effects of the slowing economy and the housing crunch began to set in during the first half of 2007, and will be more pronounced in the next census.

"When these numbers come out next year, we will see the continuation of this meltdown," Frey added.

Palm Coast, Fla., was the fastest growing U.S. metropolitan area, expanding at a clip of 7.2%.

St. George, Utah; Raleigh-Cary, N.C.; and Gainesville, Ga., were also among the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States.

Indeed, eight out of the top ten fastest growing metro areas were located in the South, and the South also accounted for more than half of the 50 fastest growing regions.

The Sunbelt is the fastest growing part of the country because in large part thanks to its lower cost of living - from housing and groceries to taxes. The region has been one of the fastest growing for years now, says Frey and, "growth breeds more growth." As more people move to an area, there is increasing demand for goods and services, which creates more jobs.

A few cities were among both the fastest growing and the areas with the biggest population jumps http://easy-quick-payday-loans.com. And two of those double-hitters were in North Carolina. Raleigh, N.C., was the third fastest-growing metro area, up 4.7%, and ranked 12th with a population gain of 47,052. Charlotte, N.C., was the 7th fastest-growing metro area, up 4.2%, and ranked 6th with a gain of 66,724.

Raleigh and Charlotte have been growing rapidly for close to 30 years, according to Bill Tillman, state demographer of the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management. Research Triangle Park, a science and technology hub, and the increasing number of national banks based in Charlotte are the area’s biggest draws.

New Orleans was the 8th fastest-growing metro area, with a 4% population gain that meant 39,885 people moved back into the city. The area had seen the largest drop in population for the period between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006, after Hurricane Katrina.

Frey expects to see growth continue in the Southeast - expanding further into the less developed parts of South Carolina and Tennessee - and into the West, particularly in the interior parts of California, Arizona, and Colorado.

The U.S. Census bureau grouped counties into 363 metropolitan areas across the country. Those metropolitan areas contained 251.9 million people, or 83.5% of the nation’s population. 

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March 27, 2008

Court rejects airline passenger bill of rights

Filed under: legal — Tags: , , — Snowman @ 12:46 pm

A federal appeals court has rejected a law requiring airlines to provide food, water, clean toilets and fresh air to passengers trapped in a plane delayed on the ground.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that New York’s new state law interferes with federal law governing the price, route or service of an air carrier. It was the first law in the nation of its kind.

The appeals court said the new law was laudable but only the federal government has the authority to enact such a regulation.

The law was challenged before the appeals court by the Air Transport Association of America, the industry trade group representing leading U.S credit report. airlines. 

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March 25, 2008

Japanese business sentiment falls

Filed under: finance — Tags: , — Snowman @ 5:22 pm

Sentiment among Japanese companies worsened during first quarter as high materials prices and a strong yen ate into their profits, a government survey showed Monday.

The dismal results add to the storm clouds surrounding the world’s second-largest economy, with some analysts saying the Bank of Japan might be forced to ease monetary policy as soon as the first half of this year.

The large company business sentiment index - which measures the percentage of companies saying that the economy will improve minus those saying it will get worse - was at minus 9.3 in the January-March quarter. It was at plus 0.5 in fourth quarter, according to the survey released by the Ministry of Finance and the Cabinet Office.

The sentiment index for middle-sized firms stood at minus 14.1, while for small firms it was minus 30.4.

The figures were the lowest since the ministry began using its current survey methods in the April-June quarter of 2004, reflecting growing concerns among companies about the impact of the U.S. subprime problems on the Japanese economy.

Yet "actual business sentiment now may be worse than this survey since it was taken before the yen rose to very high levels," said Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute.

The survey was taken on Feb get a free credit report. 25, three weeks before the yen’s surge to a 12 1/2-year high against the dollar.

"In addition, the low capital expenditure estimate is very negative for the BOJ," Kumano said. If corporate profits keep worsening as well, "the central bank may be forced to cut its rates" in the first half of 2008, he said.

The survey said companies expect capital expenditure to drop by 9.4% in fiscal 2008 starting April as profits fell by 2.9% in 2007.

Companies may also halt aggressive recruitment campaigns and cut wages gradually, sending already weak domestic demand into a tailspin. 

Source

March 24, 2008

Friendly gesture may send the wrong message

Filed under: business — Tags: , — Snowman @ 1:10 pm

At work, I’m the textbook "nice guy" that everybody likes. Lately, I’ve had problems with a female co-worker. For five years, "Kelly" and I have had a friendly relationship, but now she’s avoiding me.

About a month ago, when our boss went on vacation, I brought in doughnuts for everyone to celebrate his absence. I also anonymously put flowers on Kelly’s desk with a card that said "Have a nice day." She immediately became very standoffish.

I thought it might help to come forward, so I confessed that I brought the flowers and asked if everything was OK. She thanked me and said there was no problem, but she hasn’t been the same since.

Kelly recently ended a long relationship with the father of her children. I’ve heard it was a difficult breakup. Now I’m told that she thinks I’m trying to "take a shot" at her.
I’d like to get everything out in the open by talking privately, but I don’t think Kelly will allow it. Because I’m very in tune with emotions, this tension really bothers me. I’ve even thought about quitting. What should I do?

Kelly’s discomfort is understandable. She’s already on an emotional roller coaster, and now she fears that her office buddy is hitting on her. The more you push, the more she retreats cash til payday loan.

A private heart-to-heart is exactly what Kelly is trying to avoid. So don’t go that route. Instead, clearly state your harmless intentions, then drop the subject.

For example: "Kelly, I’m afraid you may think that I want us to be more than just friends. But I only want the same friendly relationship that we’ve always had. I won’t bring it up again, but I do hope everything can get back to normal."

Then switch to some neutral topic without waiting for a reply. If you continue to act like an ordinary, pleasant colleague, eventually she’ll reciprocate.

You also need to examine your own feelings and motives, however. You brought doughnuts for everyone, but gave flowers only to Kelly. And you chose to do so shortly after she became socially available.

My guess is that Kelly has read your true wishes correctly. If so, you’ll need to call on your emotional sensitivity to keep your own emotions in check.

MARIE G. MCINTYRE IS A WORKPLACE COACH. SEND QUESTIONS AND GET TIPS AT WWW.YOUROFFICECOACH.COM.

2008, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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March 22, 2008

Foreign investment crisis averted - U.S.

Filed under: legal — Tags: , — Snowman @ 5:41 pm

The Bush administration said Thursday it had reached agreement Abu Dhabi and Singapore that they will not use their huge government investment funds to further their political goals.

A set of policy principles was released after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson met with officials from Abu Dhabi, home to the world’s largest government investment fund, and Singapore, which also controls a sizable investment fund.

"We had a good discussion today on the issues surrounding sovereign wealth funds," Paulson said in a statement. He said the principles that had been agreed to would further efforts to develop a set of best practices to govern how the funds operate.

The funds have raised concerns about the potential threats that large amounts of foreign investment could pose to the U.S. economy and other industrial countries.

The International Monetary Fund and the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are working to develop a voluntary set of best practices to address issues that have been raised.

Paulson’s meeting followed a letter released earlier this week that Abu Dhabi sent to the administration and other Western governments in which it spelled out the principles it said guides its investment procedures.

The first of nine principles released Thursday says that sovereign wealth fund investment decisions "should be based solely on commercial grounds, rather than to advance, directly or indirectly, the geopolitical goals" of the government that controls the fund payday advance lenders.

The principles also endorse greater disclosure of information concerning the funds, saying this disclosure "can help reduce uncertainty in financial markets and build trust in recipient countries."

These funds, in many cases bulging with revenues earned through the sale of oil, have raised concerns among members of Congress and officials in Europe regarding their intentions in making investments in the United States and Europe.

The administration has sought to walk a fine line on the issue, reflecting the fact that the United States must depend on foreign investment to finance its huge trade deficits.

Paulson, in his statement, said that the United States "welcomes sovereign wealth fund investment and looks forward to continuing to work with these two countries and others to support the initiatives under way at the IMF and the OECD to develop best practices" for the funds and countries where the funds are making investments.

One of the principles for countries receiving the investment was that they "should not erect protectionist barriers to portfolio or direct investment." 

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March 20, 2008

Morgan Stanley earnings beat view

Filed under: online — Tags: , — Snowman @ 12:20 am

Morgan Stanley (MS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Wednesday said first-quarter earnings fell amid write-downs in mortgages and loans, yet resilient trading results helped the second-largest U.S. investment bank exceed lowered expectations by a wide margin.

The results offer a big boost to Chief Executive John Mack, trying to help the bank recover from $9.4 billion in mortgage trading losses last year that eroded earnings and dented his reputation. It also delivers another jolt of good news to a market that had been prepared for bigger write-downs and signs that Wall Street firms were facing liquidity problems.

Morgan’s income from continuing operations fell by about a third to $1.55 billion, or $1.45 a share, in the quarter ended February 29, from $2.31 billion, or $2.17, in the year-earlier period. Quarterly revenue fell 17 percent to $8.3 billion.

Analysts on average expected Morgan Stanley to earn $1.03 a share in the quarter on $7.3 billion of revenue, according to Reuters Estimates.

Trading results fell compared with last year’s idyllic market conditions. Yet the firm’s investment banking and trading division had its third-best quarter ever, generating revenue of $6.2 billion.

Fixed-income trading revenue posted its second-best quarter ever at $2.9 billion, while equity trading revenue surged by half payday loans. Investment banking revenue rose 6 percent to $1.6 billion.

Wall Street banks have tumbled this year amid a worsening debt market, culminating in a Federal Reserve intervention last week and a nearly insolvent Bear Stearns (BSC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) announcing a shotgun wedding with JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) for just $2 a share.

Better-than-expected results from Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Lehman Brothers (LEH.N: Quote, Profile, Research) spurred a rally in financial shares on Tuesday and helped ease worries about additional bank failures. Morgan Stanley shares, down 42 percent this year, surged 19 percent on Tuesday and were up in pre-market trade on Wednesday. 

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March 18, 2008

Gas bills ate your rebate

Filed under: term — Tags: , , — Snowman @ 7:32 pm

OK, so maybe not all your tax rebate, but a big chunk of it.

Rising gasoline prices means that up to a third of your stimulus rebate check - designed to boost the U.S. economy through spending at stores, restaurants and other businesses - could be spent buying gasoline, most of which is imported from abroad.

"The rebate goes into the tank, and then finds its way into economies far from our own," said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.

In a move to avoid a recession, the federal government is sending over $100 billion in checks to most taxpayers across the nation. The checks should arrive as early as May.

Middle income individuals with no dependents should get about $600. A middle income family of four will get about $1670, according to the Treasury Department.

Gas prices are projected to jump 40 cents a gallon on average this year according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In 2007, the average driver consumed 578 gallons of gas per vehicle, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

So if gasoline consumption holds steady, it could cost $231 more to fuel a car in 2008.

For a middle income single person, that represents over a third of their rebate money.

For the average American family with two cars, that’s $462 of additional spending on gas - over a quarter of their rebate.

If EIA’s projections are wrong, actual spending on gas could be much higher same day payday loans. The agency low balled its 2007 estimates by 30 cents a gallon.

"Energy prices may eventually swamp most or all of the stimulus package," said Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact and Opinion Economics, a Manhattan consultancy.

The stimulus package is designed to immediately boost consumer spending - which accounts for over two thirds of the country’s economy - until longer term fixes like lower interest rates have time to kick in.

If consumers instead spend the money on imported items such as gas - two thirds of the nation’s oil is imported, mostly from Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico - then the shot-in-the-arm for the U.S. economy is muted.

"There are various ways to spend your rebate dollars," said Bernstein. ‘If you spend them the wrong way, they end up stimulating someone else’s economy."

He said things like haircuts, domestic vacations, and going out to eat would be more helpful in warding off a recession than buying imported items - be it gasoline or a pair of jeans.  

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March 17, 2008

U.S. ready to maintain financial stability: Paulson

Filed under: news — Tags: , , — Snowman @ 5:53 am

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Sunday tried to allay election-year fears about the economy amid growing market turmoil, saying the government was prepared to do what it takes to maintain stability in the financial system.

Paulson appeared on several Sunday television talk shows to express confidence in the U.S. economy and financial firms after the Federal Reserve moved on Friday to inject capital into Bear Stearns (BSC.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the fifth-largest U.S. investment bank, which ran short of cash to repay its lenders.

Paulson told “Fox News Sunday” the Fed made the right decision to come to the rescue of the investment firm and that maintaining stability in financial markets was a top priority of the government.

“The government is prepared to do what it takes to maintain the stability of our financial system,” Paulson said. “That’s our priority.”

Paulson said officials were continuing discussions about the financial market turmoil through the weekend cash advance flexible payments. President George W. Bush plans to meet with his top economic advisers on Monday. Many analysts believe the Fed will decide to sharply cut interest rates at its policy meeting next week.

The housing crisis, a broadening credit crunch, a weaker dollar and the softening labor market have put the economy ahead of the war in Iraq as the top concern of voters heading into the November presidential elections.

Continued market turmoil and a protracted economic downturn could bode ill for presumptive Republican nominee John McCain as Democrats have tried to link him to Bush’s economic policies.

Paulson said the $152 billion economic stimulus plan enacted in February should help lift the economy as soon as the government checks, up to $600 for individuals, are put in the mail as early as May. 

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March 14, 2008

J

Filed under: online — Tags: , , — Snowman @ 3:48 pm

Health care giant Johnson & Johnson’s chairman and CEO received compensation valued at $22.8 million in 2007, a 10.4% rise in a year when J&J announced plans to cut up to 4% of its work force in its biggest restructuring ever.

William C. Weldon, J&J’s chairman and chief executive officer since 2002, received compensation totaling $20.6 million in 2006.

In 2007, he received a base salary of $1.73 million, according to a proxy statement filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Weldon, 59, received stock awards and options valued at $5.34 million when they were granted in February 2007, plus another $9.19 million in annual performance bonus.

Weldon, who started his career at Johnson & Johnson in 1971, also received other compensation totaling $3.22 million. That included $2.95 million in deferred compensation called dividend equivalents, $77,625 in contributions to his retirement plan and $179,231 in various perks, from $118,653 for personal use of company aircraft to $29,753 for a car and driver.

The Associated Press calculations of total pay include executives’ salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year fast cash advance loan. The calculations don’t include changes in the present value of pension benefits, and they sometimes differ from the totals companies list in the summary compensation table of proxy statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

J&J, which makes everything from Band-Aids and baby shampoo to contraceptives and genetically engineered medicines, last year saw a rare decline in net income, which fell by 4% to $10.6 billion.

However, sales jumped nearly 15%, to $61.1 billion, mainly because of the company’s acquisition the prior year of Pfizer Inc.’s (PFE, Fortune 500) huge consumer health business.

J&J (JNJ, Fortune 500) shares rose 11 cents to $62.55 in regular trading Wednesday, before the proxy was filed, then rose another 10 cents in after-hours trading. Its shares have traded in the range of $59.72 to $68.85 over the past 52 weeks. 

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