Healthcare rollout may be impeded by software issues, Target hiring fewer holiday helpers and which airline has the best economy class?
Pricing glitch impacting healthcare rollout
Less than two weeks before the launch of the insurance marketplaces created by the federal health overhaul, the government’s software can’t reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage, according to insurance executives and people familiar with the program. The Wall Street Journal reports that government officials and insurance executives are scrambling to iron out the kinks in the system. A failure by consumers to sign up in the early days of the exchanges is worrisome to insurers who are counting on enrollees for growth. It is also troubling for the Obama administration that has made exchanges the centerpiece of the healthcare legislation. If not resolved by the October 1 launch date, the problems could affect consumers in 36 states who are relying on the government to run the exchanges. About 32 million uninsured people live in those states, but only a fraction is expected to sign up.
Target to hire fewer seasonal workers
The Associated Press is reporting that Target plans to hire approximately 70,000 seasonal workers during the holiday shopping season, down 20 percent from a year ago. Target found that its own permanent employees were interested in working more hours during the holidays and has decided to give them first dibs. This allows employees to make more money to put towards purchasing holiday gifts for their families. Target indicates it also wants to respond more quickly to the peaks and valleys of customer traffic. Hiring for holiday jobs generally begins in October.
Feds guidance on interest rates questioned
Federal Reserve officials created new uncertainties regarding how much farther they intend to push their easy money policies, according to the Wall Street Journal. On Wednesday, the Fed went beyond merely deciding to keep buying the $85 billion a month of mortgage-backed securities and treasuries that it had been indicating it would start winding down. Chairman Bernanke indicated that the Fed had never said that September would be the beginning of the wind down. Yet the market had already begun pricing in the wind down in the bond markets. Bernanke cited higher interest rates as a threat to the recovery and a reason for holding off on the reduction in bond purchases. Experts indicate that lack of clear messaging from the Fed is beginning to decrease their credibility. While investors liked the message on Wednesday, the markets became doubtful on Thursday. The lack of clarity is expected to continue volatility.
Food stamps divide Congress
Farm state lawmakers hoping for a passage of a farm bill by year-end will have to overcome a deep divide between the House and the Senate over food stamps. The Associated Press reports that the House passed a bill Thursday that would make around $4 billion in cuts annually to the almost $80 billion per year food stamp program and would allow states to implement broad new work requirements for recipients. The Senate bill, however, only makes cuts of around $400 million per year.
Homes sales rise despite higher interest rates
Sales of existing houses climbed 1.7 percent in August to a six and a half year high, according to the New York Times. The National Association of Realtors said on Thursday that existing houses were selling at an annual rate of 5.48 million units, the highest since early 2007. The report surprised analysts who had expected that higher interest rates would lead to a decline in resales. Mortgage rates have risen more than a percentage point since Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, hinted in May that the central bank might begin reducing its economic stimulus.
Which airline has the best economy class?
USA Today reports that after four weeks of voting in the 10 Best.com’s Readers’ Choice contest, JetBlue won the honors as the airline with the best economy class. Virgin America was second with United and Southwest in the number three and number four positions. American and US Air were not listed in the top ten.
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.