US productivity declines most in two years
Reuters is reporting that US nonfarm productivity fell in the fourth quarter by the most in nearly two years, according to the Labor Department. Productivity declined at a 2 percent annual rate, the sharpest drop since the first quarter of 2011. and larger than the 1.3 percent predicted. Data last week indicated that output in the economy contracted 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter but analysts expect GDP to return to growth this year.
Egypt close to economic collapse
Egypt is trying to secure a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to avoid economic collapse. According to the Financial Times, the IMF has expressed concern over the government’s economic plan. Egypt’s foreign reserves have reach $13.5 billion, below the critical level of three months of imports, causing Egypt to cut imports of wheat and fuel. Additionally, the Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, is reluctant to introduce any taxes prior to the election. The IMF indicates that structural reform is needed and without significant changes it is reluctant to advance funds.
Companies challenge labor rulings
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that dozens of companies are seeking to void or block rulings made by the National Labor Relations Board due to the court decision that found President Obama’s board appointments are unconstitutional. Starbucks, Time Warner and Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings have all invoked a federal appeals court decision that found the NLRB has lacked the power act since early last year. The President violated the Constitution when he bypassed the Senate to fill three board vacancies. At least 87 companies and three unions have cited the decision in various manners.
Fitch Ratings downgraded Italy’s credit rating to a triple B-plus, due to in inconclusive election results. According to the Wall Street Journal, the rating is three steps above junk territory and the outlook is negative. Markets are concerned that the instability in Italy’s political system will make it difficult to make its economy more competitive and to keep its borrowing costs down. Fitch noted that the recession in Italy is one of the deepest in Europe. Standard and Poor’s currently has Italy rated in the same manner as Fitch and Moody’s has rated Italy even lower.
Falklands vote: Britain or Argentina
This weekend, the 2800 inhabitants of the Falkland Islands will vote on whether they want to remain an overseas territory of Great Britain, or become part of Argentina. Argentina refers to the islands as Las Malvinas and has declared the vote illegal. According to CNBC, the issue is the estimated 60 billion barrels of oil surrounding the Falklands, worth about $167 billion in royalties and taxes for the Falklands government. Argentina invaded the islands in 1982, starting a 2 month conflict with Great Britain. Argentina surrendered but never relinquished its territorial claims over the islands or their natural resources.
Schwab to spend more on marketing, technology and comp in 2013
After a year of cost-cutting and missed revenue targets, Charles Schwab Corporation plans to spend more on marketing, technology and compensation in 2013 on expectations of modest growth. According to Reuters, CEO Walt Bettinger has indicated that Schwab is willing to sacrifice some profit this year to compete more strongly against online rivals and other providers. Schwab is looking to attract more affluent investors than it has traditionally focused upon. Schwab has a market capitalization of $21.4 billion and has had trouble finding ways to invest its idle cash.
Oz attracts viewers
Disney’s “Oz, the Great and Powerful” earned $80.3 million in the US and Canada and $69.9 million overseas, according to studio estimates. The story is the prequel to the classic L. Frank Baum tale “The Wizard of Oz”. According to the Associated Press, the movie industry was down 12.5 percent year to date on box office revenues compared to last year. The hope is that “Oz”, which opened the same weekend as “Alice in Wonderland” did last year, will meet or exceed the $1 billion made by “Alice”. Oz debuted at number one with $80 million and the second place show, “Jack the Giant Slayer”, only had revenues of $10 million.
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.