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Remember the dark days of 2008 when insurer American International Group Inc., better known as AIG, nearly collapsed under the weight of the mortgage crisis before Washington rode to the rescue to the tune of $182 billion?

Then there was the public outrage when AIG executives got millions in bonuses after receiving the largest of all of the Wall Street bailouts.

Since then, the New York-based insurance giant has been essentially a government-owned enterprise, with Uncle Sam holding a controlling share.

The number of jobs on private and public payrolls grew by just 96,000 in August from July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said this morning.

Meanwhile, the nation's unemployment rate edged down to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent the month before. Often, the jobless rate dips even when employment growth is weak because the size of the labor force shrank as many Americans gave up looking for work.

It's a report that will surely add to the presidential campaign rhetoric.

When you talk to car people about General Motors, they all say the company has gotten better.

"I think General Motors, productwise, is in a better position than it's been in a decade or so," says Jack Nerad of Kelley Blue Book. "The new products, we feel ... are all quite good."

Like many people, however, Nerad adds an important caveat. He says GM's improvement doesn't mean the company is completely out of the woods, because the competition is very good as well.

McDonald's Goes Vegetarian — In India

Sep 4, 2012

McDonald's, home of the iconic Big Mac, is going vegetarian. Well, at least in India, where 20 to 42 percent or more of the population (depending on how you count) eschews meat, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Ladies, if the thought of showing up at a party or a picnic with a box of wine seems a little gauche, there's now a product for you: Vernissage's "bag-in-a-bag" of wine. It's boxed wine, shaped like a handbag.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis revised its GDP numbers today, saying that during the second quarter of this year, the United States economy grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate.

That's up from its original estimate of 1.5 percent.

The BEA reports:

Many travelers using United Airlines faced delays Tuesday, but they weren't connected to Hurricane Isaac. Instead, the airline's computer network crashed, leaving large parts of its system paralyzed Tuesday afternoon.

First noted around 2:15 p.m. EDT, the problems persisted until about 6:30 p.m. EDT, when the airline tweeted that it is "in the process of resuming operations and rebooking customers."

The food world is buzzing today about the latest news on just how often we waste perfectly good food. And we admit, the statistics are pretty depressing.

About 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia — up 50 percent from Americans in the 1970s. Yet, 1 in 6 Americans doesn't have enough to eat, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And food waste costs us about $165 billion a year and sucks up 25 percent of our freshwater supply.

What your next smart phone or tablet computer might look like is in the hands of a California jury. In one of the biggest patent infringement cases ever, Apple is suing Samsung — charging that in creating its products, Samsung ripped off iPhone and iPad technology. Samsung countered with its own allegations.

This case is complex, the legal issues are daunting, and the jury's decision has to be unanimous.

"What's at stake here is the future of smartphones and the tablet market," says intellectual property expert Christopher V. Carani.

Ever wonder how charitable the people are who live in your state or community? It turns out that lower-income people tend to donate a much bigger share of their discretionary incomes than wealthier people do. And rich people are more generous when they live among those who aren't so rich.

Refinance activity continues to boom, fueling the home-loan market. Low interest rates have created a class of "serial refinancers" — those lucky enough to borrow at lower rates — and given them new opportunities to spend their freed up cash.

Settlement attorney Robert Gratz never used to be on a first-name basis with his clients.

"In the past, our practice was such that you'd see people, and that was the end of it," he says.

Gratz now sees the same faces all the time, of clients refinancing again and again — these days in the mid-3 percent range.

Families often pull together to help finance a college education, with parents and grandparents chipping in or co-signing loans. And now, a SmartMoney report finds the U.S. government withholding money from Social Security recipients who've stopped paying on federal student loans.

This is the third in a three-part series about major American networks trying to appeal to a broader Latino audience.

Jorge Ramos has a humbling problem.

He is one of the best-known Hispanics in the U.S. and a respected news anchor for the Univision networks on which millions of Americans routinely rely.

And yet, in Ramos' telling, his 14-year-old son, Nicolas, and his 25-year-old daughter, Paola, don't watch his newscasts.

If you've been applauding yourself recently for choosing the apple slices over the french fries for your kid's fast food meal, or an apple-laden prepackaged salad for your own dinner, you might want to hit the pause button.

Google is eliminating about 20 percent of the jobs at Motorola Mobility, the struggling cellphone manufacturer it finished acquiring earlier this year for $12.5 billion, according to reports from The New York Times, Dow Jones' All Things Digital blog and other news outlets.

One factor that has kept Poland somewhat insulated from the eurozone crisis is domestic consumer spending. Poland had more than 4 percent growth last year while the rest of the continent was mired in negative or flat growth. Poles have more discretionary income than ever before, and they're using it to buy things in swank malls cropping up all over the country.

If you don't love scallops, you probably just haven't had one that's cooked properly. That is, pan fried with some garlic and butter and herbs. They are very tasty.

In Maine, scientists and fishermen are learning how to farm, instead of catching, these tasty sea critters. That could be good for business and the environment.

Out on the water off Stonington, Maine, Marsden Brewer is motoring his lobster boat through the crowded fishing harbor. Today, just about all the boats here are lobster boats. But 30 years ago, he says, it was a different story.

Zoe Chace and Robert Smith are reporting from European borders this week. This is the third story in a four-part series.

The eurozone was supposed to create one big labor market by making it easy to cross borders for work.

But Gerhard Wiegelmann, a CEO in Stuttgart, Germany, can't find enough workers to staff his company — even with unemployment in Spain over 20 percent. He's had to turn down projects because he can't hire enough people.

Encore Careers: Become Your Own Boss & more...

Aug 9, 2012
Joseph Chornyak, Sr.
Chornyak & Associates

Entrepreneurs are part of what makes America great. Many citizens over 50, rather than retiring early, have started their own businesses and are enjoying personal and monetary rewards. In this month's feature article we present a story by Commonwealth Financial Network that gives you some food for thought on the possibilities of entering the world of entrepreneurship. 

It may take some time to pinpoint the exact cause of India's massive blackouts last week, but the underlying issue for India and many other parts of the developing world is that supply is struggling to keep up with the growing demand for power — an imbalance that can affect the reliability of electric grids.

Maureen O'Brien told her daughter Emily Macri: dream big.

She could pick any college she wanted and they would figure out a way to pay for it.

Macri chose the University of Vermont, which costs more than $49,000 in tuition and fees per year for out-of-state residents.

O'Brien and her daughter co-signed a private student loan from Sallie Mae for $24,000 and a $30,000 Parent PLUS loan, a federal loan program for parents. And that was just for Macri's first two years of college.

There were 163,000 more jobs on public and private payrolls last month, but the nation's unemployment rate edged up to 8.3 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported.

The jobs gain was the best in five months and was much better than the revised estimated of growth for June — a gain of just 64,000 jobs. But it wasn't good enough to keep the jobless rate from rising slightly. In June, it stood at 8.2 percent.

For a historic look at spending in America, see our post What America Buys. For more, see our Graphing America series.

How do Americans spend their money? And how do budgets change across the income spectrum?

Weighing 400 grams, the Olympic gold medals that are being doled out at the London 2012 Summer Games are the heaviest ever, according to reports. But that doesn't mean they're the most valuable: at an estimated $620.82, they're nearly $590 short of the $1,207.86 value held by a gold medal from the Stockholm Games of 1912.

The discrepancy stems from the fact that the 2012 gold medals contain only 6 grams of gold; the rest is silver and copper. In fact, the London bling contains more copper than gold, which is only used to coat the medals with a plating layer.

We told you before about the Google Street View vehicles that illegally collected data from unprotected Wi-Fi devices while they took pictures of the streets in Europe, Australia and the United States.

The economy grew at a sluggish 1.5 percent annual rate in the second quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported this morning, down from a 2 percent pace in the first quarter.

This is the bureau's first estimate of GDP growth in the spring months. It will revise the figure twice in coming months. It's now 8:33 a.m. ET. We'll have more about the report shortly.

Update at 10 a.m. ET. The White House Points To String Of Positive Quarters:

How To Set Up An Offshore Company

Jul 27, 2012

Setting up an offshore company in a tax haven is surprisingly easy. A simple Google search offers up thousands of companies willing to help you do it.

Rebeca Espinal admits with a shy smile that she's a straight-A math student. She's a high school graduate who dreamed of going to college.

Instead, Espinal, 17, is working in a Charlotte, N.C., factory that makes gas turbines and generators. She is an apprentice with the German company Siemens.

"I was planning on getting a degree in international relations, but with financial aid and how difficult it is to pay for college and everything," she says. "So when Siemens came along and gave me the offer, it was too good of an opportunity to just let it go.

Apple reported its financial results for the quarter ended June 30, and depending how you look at it, they're either amazing or disappointing.

The company says it made $8.8 billion in profits over the course of three months. That's more than enough to buy every share of Alcoa, the global aluminum giant, which was worth just under $8.6 billion when the stock market closed this afternoon.

If there is a founding ethos in the world of high-tech startups, it's this: The idea is everything. Facebook's initial public offering might have seemed like the perfect illustration. A simple concept, conceived by a college student, became a $100 billion empire in just 8 years.

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