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In many parts of the developing world, drinking a glass of water can be deadly — especially for young children, who can die of diarrheal diseases contracted from dirty water.

So getting clean water to people in the developing world has been a top priority for aid groups for a long time. But it's been a surprisingly hard problem to solve.

There is one basic question that keeps being asked about the U.S. auto industry: Is it on the rebound?

"People ask a lot, is the auto industry back?" says Kristin Dziczek, a director at the Center for Automotive Research. "And it depends on what scale you want to look at."

So if we're looking at scales, let's start with productivity. In this case, how many work hours it takes to build a car. Productivity in U.S. plants is 39 percent higher than it was in 2000. "Productivity has never been this high," Dziczek says.

It's not your everyday real estate deal. A team of young entrepreneurs persuaded about 50 deep-pocketed investors to help them purchase a mountain. The deal just closed in April, and development on Utah's nearly 10,000-acre Powder Mountain is now underway.

"When we made those first phone calls, everybody's like, what? That being said, they know that we aren't kidding," says Jeff Rosenthal, co-founder of Summit, the group that led the purchase of the peak.

When the maker of a brand-name drug pays a maker of generic drugs to not produce a lower-priced version of their product, the Federal Trade Commission can challenge the arrangement on antitrust grounds, the Supreme Court ruled Monday. The ruling may end the era of what regulators call "pay-for-delay" deals.

The justices voted 5-3 to allow a case to go forward in which the FTC is challenging one of many such deals. Several companies are involved in the case, including Solvay Pharmaceuticals, maker of AndroGel, and generic-drug maker Actavis.

Why More People Are Renting Tires

Jun 14, 2013

"Oh, I checked every place in town, and they were outrageous," says Shannon Kelly. "It would be anywhere from $4[00] to $500, and I just don't have that right now."

Kelly had just walked into Rent N Roll, a rent-to-own tire store in Ocala, Fla. She was looking to rent a set of tires for her truck. Tire rental stores like this one have been around for a while, but until recently, most of their customers rented fancy rims. These days, it's becoming more common for the stores to rent simple tires to people who don't have the cash to buy tires outright.

More women are getting into farming, according to a recent analysis from the U.S Department of Agriculture.

The agency crunched numbers from the Agriculture Census and found that the number of U.S. farms operated by women nearly tripled over the past three decades, from 5 percent in 1978 to 14 percent by 2007.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking at how overdraft fees affect consumers in a detailed report released Tuesday.

One of the stunning finds: "Overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees accounted for 61 percent of total consumer deposit account service charges in 2011 among the banks in the CFPB report."

As a result of Joe Chornyak's recent meetings with portfolio managers, he uncovered some surprising insights as to what is HOT in financial markets today. Don't miss this video in which he shares with us his thoughts on creating the greatest opportunity over the long haul.

"I'm a carpenter/cabinet-maker/woodworker, and I think I'll be retiring the day I die."

Michael Powers, 47, is not alone in his retirement insecurity. According to a Pew study published in May, members of Generation X — aged 38 to 47 — are on track to be the first generation to do worse in retirement than their parents. Assuming they retire at all.

There was modest job growth once again in May even as the nation's unemployment rate ticked up, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

According to BLS:

-- 175,000 jobs were added to public and private payrolls last month, slightly more than economists had expected.

-- The jobless rate rose to 7.6 percent from April's 7.5 percent. That rate can rise even as more jobs are added because the size of the labor force has also gone up.

Working jointly with the FBI, Microsoft says it has disrupted a botnet responsible for stealing more than $500 million from bank accounts worldwide.

Jobs Outlook Is Brighter For Class Of 2013

Jun 5, 2013

For the last five years, graduation day has been as much a time for apprehension as for celebration.

Even now, with the Great Recession over, many recent graduates are still struggling to turn their high school and college diplomas into tickets for a better life. The unemployment rate for Americans under age 25 remains more than double the overall rate of 7.5 percent.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Preparing for Medicare Enrollment

May 31, 2013

With all the options available to you, the Medicare enrollment process can seem overwhelming, especially if you leave important decisions to the last minute. Commonwealth Financial Network provides the following advice to ease any potential discomfort about making the correct choices.

Where should we place our emphasis in savings and investment?  It's a question that we at Chornyak & Associates face frequently. The website Consumerism Commentary looks at both sides of the issue and comes up with some sound thoughts.  The answer?  It's a "moveable goal." 

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.4 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday morning.

That basically confirms what the agency said a month ago, when it released its initial estimate for gross domestic product growth in the quarter. Then, it reported the economy had expanded at a 2.5 percent pace.

NPR's Uri Berliner is taking $5,000 of his own savings and putting it to work. Though he's no financial whiz or guru, he's exploring different types of investments — alternatives that may fare better than staying in a savings account that's not keeping up with inflation.

Remember the disappointment you felt as a kid at the souvenir shop when that personalized key chain wasn't available in your name? For me, it was never finding "Allison" with two L's. My colleague Maria says she was always stuck with "Mary" as her only option.

Facebook fans of Coca-Cola's new "Share a Coke" campaign are having similar frustrations. As part of its new campaign, which recently launched in Europe, the soda giant is printing popular first names on labels of Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero.

A radical shift in the world energy picture is raising environmental concerns in the United States.

Until recently, the U.S. had been expected to import more natural gas. But now, because of controversial technologies like "fracking," drillers are producing a lot more domestic natural gas; so much that prices are down, along with industry profits. And drillers are looking overseas for new customers.

House flipping is back.

A popular phenomenon during the housing boom, flipping is when a house is bought and sold within a six-month period. Flippers are real estate investors who buy houses, fix them up quickly and then resell them, making money off the renovation. In parts of California, it's happening at some of the fastest rates in a decade.

At a recent open house in Glassell Park, a neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles, curious buyers and neighbors streamed into a green stucco house that had just come onto the market.

In the nearly impenetrable language that comes with his job, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress on Wednesday that even though the economy is doing better, the central bank needs to keep giving it a boost.

The key passage from his prepared testimony:

If you were hoping to cash in that Borders gift card for the latest Dan Brown novel — or at least hoping to get some cash for it — you're too late.

A Manhattan federal judge on Wednesday ruled that the bankrupt and defunct book chain owes nothing to the roughly 17.7 million people who hold $210.5 million in unredeemed gift cards.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter says it would be unfair to Borders Group's other creditors to let gift-card holders pursue recoveries, Reuters reports:

Apple was criticized in a Senate committee hearing Tuesday for using complex accounting to minimize the corporate taxes it pays. One key piece of the company's tax strategy: It funnels lots of its profits through subsidiaries in Ireland.

Offering low corporate tax rates has been a fundamental part of Ireland's economic strategy for decades — a way to get foreign companies to set up operations in the country.

Giant technology firm Apple is paying billions of dollars less than it should in U.S. taxes each year, according to a report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. In a hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Apple CEO Tim Cook will defend the company.

The subcommittee's report says Apple avoids the tax payments mainly by shifting profits to three subsidiary companies in Ireland. The investigation found Apple is taking advantage of technicalities in U.S. and Irish tax laws to avoid paying any tax on a huge portion of its profits.

U.S. oil production is rising sharply and increased output from shale will be a "game changer" in global energy markets in the coming years, according to a new report out Tuesday by the International Energy Agency.

Whatever Happened To The Economy?

May 14, 2013

Remember the economy?

The election year was dominated by talk about jobs and the economy, but neither the administration nor Congress seems to have any grand ideas for jump-starting a still sluggish recovery — and they're not even talking about it much.

President Obama sought to turn attention back to economic issues with a speech last week in Texas on manufacturing, but that's already long since been forgotten. A cascade of scandals has driven the issue entirely off the Washington radar.

The Internet has managed to disrupt many industries, from publishing to music. So why not lending?

Google is teaming up with the nation's largest peer-to-peer lender. The search and tech giant is investing $125 million in Lending Club, which gets borrowers and lenders together outside the conventional banking system. Google's move and the actions of other big players reflect a growing interest in peer-to-peer lending.

Federal workers say they don't have much to celebrate these days.

Furloughs began in April, exacerbating already low morale for many government agencies as budgets have tightened. Downsizing has meant more work for those who remain, and talk of further cuts has many worried about job security. This year is also the third that federal workers haven't received a pay increase, contributing to discontent.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Ignacia Moreno, the point person at the Justice Department for prosecuting environmental crimes, says she will leave government service next month.

Congress is considering a bill that would allow states to collect sales taxes from online retailers. Proponents say a law is necessary to level the playing field with brick-and-mortar stores and to raise revenue for states.

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