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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.

Wal-Mart has reclaimed the lead spot on the Fortune 500 list released today. For the past few years, the giant retailer has been battling it out with Exxon for top billing.

This year, Exxon Mobil dropped to No. 2.

Fortune writes about Wal-Mart:

(Most recent update: 10 a.m. ET.)

The nation's jobless rate edged down to 7.5 percent in April from 7.6 percent in March and employers added 165,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning.

Across the country, state budgets are back in the black after years of belt-tightening and spending cuts. From California to Florida, in nearly every state, the economic recovery has produced a surge in tax revenue.

For governors and state legislators, that's produced a new question: how to spend the money.

The past three years have not been easy ones for elected officials. Nearly every state requires them to produce a balanced budget. And with declining revenue from sales, property and income taxes, that has meant big spending cuts.

In Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, a Starbucks coffee shop looks as it would in the United States. It has the same jazzy music; the same items on the menu.

There is one thing that is different, though: the prices.

"Everyone told me it's expensive, but when you see it yourself it's shocking," says one customer, Thierry, who is from Geneva and is in town for a wedding.

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