Business news

Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks has announced it's going to expand to Colombia.

The country is known for its Arabica beans and for the mythical coffee farmer Juan Valdez. He's helped sell Colombia's coffee for 50 years. Starbucks has cafes in 50 countries. And now, it's coming to perhaps the country most associated with coffee.

Howard Schultz, the company's chief executive, announced that the first shop will open in Bogota in 2014, followed by 50 more cafes and in other cities over five years.

When you go to the Dead Sea for a float in its extraordinarily buoyant waters, signs warn you not to drink a drop. "Did you swallow water?" one Dead Sea do's and don'ts list asks. "Go immediately to the lifeguard."

In its first "Global Government Requests Report," Facebook has released details on the number of requests it has gotten from government agents for user data.

Facebook reveals that governments around the globe have made 38,000 total requests for user data in the first half of 2013, and the U.S. dwarfs the rest of the world in requests. Up to June 30, the U.S. government asked Facebook for access to accounts of between 20,000 and 21,000 users, the company said.

Facebook has more than 1.1 billion users globally.

It's been a good year for Tesla Motors, the luxury electric car maker, particularly in California, where it's selling more cars than Porsche, Jaguar, Lincoln, or Buick. In 2013, the company has sold 4,714 cars in the state, according to the California New Car Dealers Association.

Here's a rundown of the state's vehicle sales rankings:

  • Tesla: 4,714
  • Porsche: 4,586
  • Land Rover: 4,022
  • Volvo: 2,982
  • Lincoln: 2,230

Two key economic indicators — home prices and consumer confidence — both seem to signal that slow, steady economic growth lies ahead.

Tuesday's reports:

-- Confidence. The Conference Board's widely watched consumer confidence index increased only slightly in August, to 81.5 from 81 in July, the business research group says.

First Female Member Of New York Stock Exchange Dies

Aug 26, 2013

The first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and head one of its member firms has died.

Muriel "Mickie" Siebert died Saturday in New York at age 80, The New York Times reports. The cause was complications of cancer.

Here's more from The Times:

Social Security Rules and Strategies

Aug 23, 2013

We often get questions about Social Security rules and strategies. Commonwealth Financial Network provides some excellent advice about when to apply for Social Security.  Don't miss it.  

We told you recently about new allegations of violations at three Chinese factories that make Apple's popular iPhones and iPads. Now, we have more allegations of labor violations – this time against Apple's main rival, Samsung, and its operations in Brazil.

Six years ago, the U.S. housing market plunged off a cliff. Now prices are bouncing back up — sharply in many markets.

That has some real estate analysts saying 2013 may mark the turning point — when pent-up demand will revive the housing sector and boost the broader economy.

At a time when much of the world is mired in economic torpor, China still enjoys enviable growth rates. Yet there's no question that its economy is growing more slowly these days.

Just ask Yan Liwei, a salesman for a construction materials company, who was visiting a park in Shanghai this weekend.

"The number of new construction projects is declining somewhat. It's taking longer for many of our clients to pay us what they owe," Liwei says. "Many small and midsized developers are feeling a cash crunch."

After Monday's surprising news that founder Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post for $250 million — a deal that came just days after the Boston Globe was sold for $70 million to Boston Red Sox owner John Henry — a question naturally occurs:

Who's next?

With sizzling temperatures in much of the country, tourists are turning to mountain ski resorts to find relief. Resorts from Colorado to California and Oregon are on track to set a record this year for summer business.

Brandon Wilke is spending a long weekend at a resort just down the road from Aspen, Colo. He came for a wedding, but Wilke and his brother-in-law decided to bring their mountain bikes and try out some bike trails at the Snowmass ski resort. At first, Wilke says he didn't know mountain biking was an option.

The New York Times Co. has announced the sale of The Boston Globe to the principle owner of the Boston Red Sox for $70 million, a sum that represents a fraction of the $1.1 billion paid for the flagship newspaper two decades ago.

It's finally happening, folks. This year, the average time Americans spend with digital media each day will surpass traditional TV viewing time. That's according to eMarketer's latest estimate of media consumption among adults.

The average adult will spend more than five hours per day online and on non-voice mobile activities (read: texting, apps, games). That's compared to an average four hours and 31 minutes each day of TV watching.

The unemployment rate only includes people who don't have jobs and are looking for work. A much larger swath of people — about 36 percent of U.S. adults — don't have jobs and aren't looking for work at all. That figure is higher than it's been in decades (and, conversely, the share of adults in the labor force — shown in the graph above — is lower than it's been in decades).

Here are four reasons why so many people are leaving the labor force.

1. They're retiring.

The U.S. economy grew by an annualized rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2013, according to gross domestic product data released Wednesday morning. The Commerce Department says the rise stems from business investments, particularly in buildings, and an upturn in exports and the civilian aircraft industry.

The reigning king in the truck world is the Ford F-150, and it's been that way for a couple of decades. But staying on top is getting harder.

With new, tougher fuel standards looming there is a lot of emphasis on efficiency and innovation. On Wednesday, Ford is announcing its flagship truck is taking a step into the alternative fuel world with a vehicle that can run on natural gas.

When you look at their bottom lines and their advertising you realize that the Detroit Three make cars, but they're really truck companies, especially Ford.

Northern California's Salinas Valley is often dubbed America's salad bowl. Large growers there have long relied on thousands of seasonal workers from rural Mexico to pick lettuce, spinach and celery from sunrise to sunset. Many of these workers seem destined for a life in the fields. But a program that helps field workers, like Raul Murillo, start their own farms and businesses is starting to yield a few success stories.

William Roman wants to borrow money, but his bank won't lend him any more. So he's turning to his local pawn shop.

For Roman, a loan from the pawn shop is a lot easier to get. He doesn't have to fill out an application. The people at the pawn shop don't check his credit — all they want is something valuable, something they call sell if Roman doesn't pay them back.

"I've pawned laptops, PlayStations," says Roman. "If I'm not using it, then I'll just go and pawn it."