The Labor Department reports flat producer prices, United wants to buy out its flight attendants, and MIT wins a prestigious university award. Here is the top news stories for the start of your day on Sept. 16, 2014.
MIT Wins Top University Honor
The QS World University Rankings are out and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took the top honor. MIT beat out the University of Cambridge and London’s Imperial College, which finished second and third in the rankings. All of the top 10 schools came from either the United States or United Kingdom. Imperial College actually jumped ahead of Harvard, the University College London and the University of Oxford in this year’s rankings. “"In the wake of the recession, both governments and private sector funding sources are placing greater emphasis on high-impact STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) research, much of which takes place in specialist institutions," said QS Head of Research Ben Sowter in a news release. The remaining schools in the top 10 were Stanford, the California Institute of Technology, Princeton and Yale.
General Motors Pulling Away from Russia
Due to severely reduced demand, General Motors’ Opel division is cutting production in Russia and will make moves to reduce its workforce there. Opel announced it would scale back production in St. Petersburg to a total of just 16 days during the three-month period running from August to October. "Russia was our third-biggest market last year after the UK and Germany," Chief Executive Karl-Thomas Neumann said in a statement. "At the moment, this market is locked into severe turbulences.” Western sanctions as a result of the battles over the Ukraine and the devalued ruble are affecting car sales in Russia. Open said it would offer voluntary severance packages to about one-fourth of its 2,000 staff members at the St. Petersburg plant.
You Too Can Get Rid of U2
The free downloaded U2 album that came with the recent purchase of the new iPhone 6 Apple product has caused quite a stir among consumers, and now Apple says it is possible to delete the album from the iTunes account. Apple has released a support page explaining how to delete the free album after social media exploded with users who did not want the new album downloaded to their iCloud accounts. ITunes users complained that the addition was an intrusion into their private music databases, while others simply did not want to listen to the music but could not find a way to erase it from their accounts.
Producer Prices Flat in August
The Labor Department Tuesday said U.S. producer prices were flat in August, which yet again could keep the Federal Reserve from making any move to raise interest rates. The Producer Price Index for final demand was unchanged in August as gasoline and food costs dropped. The PPI had edged up 0.1 percent in July and economists had expected a similar slight move upward in August. In the 12 months through August, producer prices rose 1.8 percent. While data on retail sales, manufacturing, the service sectors and housing have shown sustainable growth, the flat PPI could keep the benchmark overnight lending rate at near zero, which it has stayed since December 2008.
United to Buy Out Flight Attendants
In an attempt to get a new labor contract with the flight attendants union, United Airlines announced it will offer flight attendants up to $100,000 in severance if they leave the airline. The lump-sum payments will be offered according to seniority to some of the 23,000 flight attendants currently employed by United. The Association of Flight Attendants signed off on the announcement Monday. United is attempting to match flight attendants to its flight schedule and hopes the voluntary departures will keep it from having to lay off employees or remove the senior (and more expensive) employees from the payroll.
Is Trump Coming Back to AC?
Donald Trump took to Twitter Tuesday to say he might be interested in buying back a stake in the two Atlantic City casinos he got rid of a few years ago. Both Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal are in severe financial distress as are many other casinos on the AC boardwalk. “I left Atlantic City years ago, good timing. Now I may buy back in, at much lower price, to save Plaza & Taj. They were run badly by funds,” Trump said in his tweet. Three Atlantic City casinos – the Atlantic club, the Showboat and Revel – have closed their doors this year.