Fewer companies willing to hire
US companies are less likely to hire than earlier in the year according to a National Association for Business Economics survey and reported by Reuters. Only 23 percent of firms polled in June plan to add staff in the next six months compared to 39 percent in late March. The hiring slowdown is primarily due to economic concerns regarding Europe and the economy and not due to an existing business slowdown. Forty seven percent of companies, however, feel that their sales have dropped. The caution in hiring is expected to continue.
Hedge funds receive investment research prior to other investors
According to a story by the New York Times reported by CNBC, changes in research analysts’ views are being shared by some of the top brokerage firms with hedge funds prior to being made public. This allows large hedge fund investors to react prior to the general market and therefore can be very profitable for these firms. The brokerage firms are sharing questionnaires filled out by analysts with firms such as BlackRock and Sigma Investments prior to the reports becoming final. This practice has occurred at many companies including Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and UBS. Asian markets closed up on Monday while European markets are mixed. The Dow rose 203 points on Friday to close at 12,777.
Will stores charge more for credit card purchases?
Visa, MasterCard and several major banks agreed to pay more than $7 billion to settle an antitrust case brought on behalf of 7 million retailers that accept Visa and MasterCard. According to USA Today, credit card companies agreed to reduce for eight months the so-called swipe fees businesses pay credit card companies for card transactions they process. Stores would be able to charge consumers more if they pay with credit cards under changes to Visa and MasterCard rules in the settlement. The reality is that few of the retailers will charge more. The practice for charging more for credit card purchases is more common in other countries. The Wall Street Journal reports that a trade association representing some 3700 convenience stores and other companies has hired a legal foe of Visa and MasterCard to challenge the settlement. The trade association indicates that the settlement doesn’t stop Visa and MasterCard from ultimately raising merchant fees.
Iran threatens to close the Strait of Hormuz
Iran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz unless sanctions against it are lifted, according to Reuters. Forty percent of the world’s seaborne oil passes through the Strait. The sanctions were imposed by the US and others over Iran’s nuclear program, which the West believes is aimed at creating an atomic weapon but Iran says is for peaceful purposes. Oil prices have increased recently due to North Sea production problems and reports that China’s GDP is in line with expectations and therefore it will continue to need oil. The Lundberg Survey, which tracks gasoline prices, indicated that the national average price of regular gas was $3.41 this week, a fall of 14 percent from the recent peak of $3.96 in April. Due to the factors mentioned previously, gas prices may end their fall and once again begin to rise.
Former space workers still seeking jobs
A year after NASA ended the space shuttle program, more than half of the 7400 workers are still seeking jobs, according to USAToday. The challenge for many of the workers is that the local job market is saturated with accountants and engineers and they have been forced to move elsewhere to find jobs. Additionally, many of the workers are in their fifties and sixties, making new positions harder to find. While many had anticipated the end of the shuttle program, most workers believed they would move to the Constellation program which was going to send astronauts to the moon and then to Mars. That program was cancelled, however, in 2010. Many of these workers will soon run out of unemployment benefits.
Company pays employees to take a vacation
The CEO and co-founder of Denver based software provider FullContact, Bart Lorang,is paying his employees $7500 to take a vacation. The catch is that employees must completely go off technology for the duration of the vacation. According to Fox News, that means no email, texting or phone calls. Additionally, employees can do no work on their vacation. Lorang believes that his employees will come back from their vacations refreshed and more productive. Those employees who have taken advantage of the program tend to agree. Likely to occur in other companies? You decide.
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.