Has U.S. jobs data been manipulated for political reasons? JP Morgan Chase settles while Tesla is being investigated by the government. And what is the word of the year? Not "twerking"?
US jobs data includes fake figures
CNBC is reporting that in 2010 the Census Bureau uncovered manipulated data that made its way into the unemployment report. This practice has apparently not been isolated to only one incident. The New York Post is reporting that an anonymous source said that one employee was caught, and the problem escalated around the time of the Presidential election. A Census bureau employee was told to fabricate information by his superiors and the practice allegedly continues today. A spokesperson for the Bureau of Labor Statistics told CNBC that the incident has been reported to the Commerce Dept Inspector General's Office for investigation.
Wal-Mart promotes $98 TV to boost Holiday sales
US retailers are discounting earlier than ever because they fear the weakest holiday shopping season since 2009. Bloomberg reports that Wal-mart is promoting a $98 32-inch flat screen TV. Sears has waived layaway fees and Kmart has a rent-to-own program. More than a dozen retailers are opening on Thanksgiving Day. The disparity between wealthy and lower-income shoppers is predicted to become apparent this holiday season as stores such as Wal-mart suffer while Tiffany’s is projected to have a strong year. Holiday sales are projected to advance 2.4 percent, the smallest increase since the Recession ended.
Tesla fires bring about federal investigation
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened a formal investigation into the safety of the Tesla Model S electric car, according to USA Today. The investigation comes about because of two reports of battery fires in the electric cars after striking roadway debris. The fires occurred in Washington state and Tennessee. After announcement of the investigation, Tesla shares dropped 4.5 percent prior to the market opening. Tesla has already announced steps taken due to the fires that will improve the safety of the vehicles. Tesla also amended to warranties on the cars to cover damage due to fire.
JP Morgan Chase reaches settlement with Justice Department
JP Morgan Chase & Co. agreed to a landmark $13 billion settlement that resolves a number of legal issues for the largest US bank. The Wall Street Journal reports that the settlement ends several investigations and lawsuits targeting soured mortgage bonds issued before the financial crisis. The settlement represents the largest combination of fines and damages extracted by the US government in a civil settlement with any single company. JP Morgan agreed to pay at least $1.5 billion to write down the principal amounts of loans in which the borrower owes more than the property is worth. Another $300 to $500 million will go toward mortgage forbearance which means restructuring some mortgages to reduce monthly payments. The other $2 billion in consumer relief will be used for various measures. An additional $4 billion in consumer relief was added over the weekend to finalize the deal.
OECD cuts global growth forecast
The OECD cut almost half a percentage point off of the forecasts for global growth this year and next, blaming a slowdown in emerging markets. According to the Financial Times, the agency indicated that the global economy will expand 2.7 percent this year and 3.6 percent in 2014, compared to the May estimates of 3.1 percent and 4 percent.
"Selfie" named word of the year
Oxford Dictionary's word of the year for 2013 has named "selfie" the word of the year for 2013. A "selfie" is a photograph one has taken of oneself, generally with a smartphone and uploaded to a social media site. USA Today reports that usage of the word has increased a staggering 17,000 percent since 2012. The second runner-up word of the year is believed to have been "twerk".
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.