Business

Business news

Are you aware of the significant changes in the way the IRS targets taxpayers for audits and how it conducts the exams?  

A plain, one-bedroom apartment in Williston, N.D., rents for $2,100 a month. For this price, you could rent a one-bedroom apartment in New York City.

Williston is not New York City. There are 30,000 residents and one department store. The nearest city is two hours away.

Rents are so high in Williston because the town is in the middle of an oil boom. Unemployment is below 1 percent, and workers are flooding into town.

We don't hear much about bank liquidity, partly because it sounds so dull. It's much more fun to talk about prop trading (fear the London Whale!) or structured finance (synthetic CDOs are crazy!).

But if you're trying to figure out how safe banks are — and how willing they'll be to make loans to ordinary people — liquidity is at least as important as other, more-dramatic-sounding corners of finance.

So the new liquidity rules global banking regulators released yesterday are a big deal for the real economy.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, has landed in North Korea. His trip there is a bit of a mystery.

Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, has been a vocal proponent of providing people around the world with Internet access and technology. North Korea doesn't even let its citizens access the open Internet, and its population is overwhelmingly poor — so it's not exactly a coveted audience for advertisers.

It's become an annual tradition: bidding up an outrageous price for a Pacific bluefin tuna during the first auction of the new year at Toyko's Tsukiji fish market.

And on Saturday, a bluefin tuna big enough to serve up about 10,000 pieces of sushi fetched a mind-boggling price: $1.76 million. That's about three times as much as last year's tuna and equates to about $3,600 per pound for the 489-pound fish.

Ten of the nation's major mortgage servicing companies, including household names such as Bank of America and Citibank, have agreed to pay $8.5 billion to resolve claims that they abused some homeowners when they foreclosed on mortgages during the recent housing crisis, the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency announced late Monday morning.

Bank of America announced this morning that it will pay the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) $3.6 billion in cash and will buy back $6.75 billion worth of mortgages to resolve claims related to mortgage-backed securities sold to Fannie Mae by the bank and Countrywide Financial Corp. (which BofA acquired in 2008.

Deep in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, lumberjacks still cry "timber," just not as often as they once did. Across the state, milling lumber into good paper, the kind called "knowledge" grade for books, has employed thousands for more than a century, and created a distinct culture.

Think about it and you'll start to realize how important the Jersey shore is to American culture. Sure there's the television show Jersey Shore, but there are more enduring signs. Consider the board game Monopoly; properties are named after Atlantic City locations. And during a television fundraiser for Superstorm Sandy victims in November, comedian Jimmy Fallon talked specifically about the Jersey Shore.

Whether you're a homeowner who bought an energy-saving refrigerator last year or a company hoping to build a wind farm, the tax package Congress just approved may give you a reason to cheer.

"It's got something in there, a Christmas gift if you will, for almost everyone — American homeowners, workers who commute via transit, and manufacturers of efficient equipment like clothes washers, dryers, refrigerators," says Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.

There were 155,000 jobs added to public and private payrolls in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday morning.

That's right in line with economists' expectations and is another sign of steady, though modest, growth in employment. In November, employers added an estimated 161,000 jobs. The average monthly gain in 2012 was 153,000 jobs, BLS says. That's the same average as in 2011.

8:35 a.m. ET. And the answer is: 155,000 jobs added to payrolls in December; the jobless rate held at 7.8 percent. (November's rate was revised up to 7.8 percent.)

Our original post:

Here it comes — the always eagerly anticipated news about jobs and the nation's unemployment rate.

As Americans continue to sort out the contents of the fiscal cliff legislative package passed by Congress Tuesday, they are finding elements they like and some they hate.

There's one exception. Everyone is glad Congress finally found a permanent fix for the alternative minimum tax.

Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig where 11 men died in April 2010, has agreed to pay $1.4 billion in criminal and civil penalties to resolve Justice Department allegations over its role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Update at 9:45 p.m. Deal Reached

Vice President Joe Biden was meeting late Monday with Senate Democrats to brief them on a proposed deal to stop sharp tax increases and spending cuts. A source told NPR the deal with congressional Democratic and Republican leaders includes a mix of both.

There were 350,000 first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, down 12,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration reports. That's the lowest level since early March 2008.

The agency adds that "the 4-week moving average," which tends to smooth out some of the volatility that comes with the weekly figures, "was 356,750, a decrease of 11,250 from the previous week's revised average of 368,000."

With negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff" uncertain at best, the Obama administration is trying to tamp down anxiety in the federal workforce.

The administration's message to various federal agencies is that there will be little immediate effect on public employees from the budget cuts scheduled to take effect next week if a deal is not reached. Treasury Department employees, for instance, were told not to expect "day to day operations to change dramatically on or immediately after January 2."

For workers, of course, that's good news.

It was another busy year for federal authorities pursuing insider trading cases. Seventy-five people have now been charged in the last three years, and investigators say that success comes largely from their decision to attack insider trading the way they take down the Mafia and drug cartels — with tools such as wiretaps, informants and cooperators.

The story behind how the government decided to go after insider trading as hard as it goes after the mob is really just a story about dead ends.

Those of us trying to lose some pounds after overindulging this holiday season can get help from a slew of smartphone apps that count steps climbed and calories burned. Self-tracking has also become a way for companies to make money using your fitness data. And some experts worry that the data collected could be used against users in the long run.

At a recent Quantified Self Meetup in downtown San Francisco, technology lovers are testing homemade do-it-yourself devices on people eager to measure their mind and body.

Throughout the debate over taxes and the "fiscal cliff," there's been a lot of looking backward — to the 1990s. The economic expansion of the 1990s was the longest in recorded American history.

Democrats say the economy thrived under the leadership of President Bill Clinton, including his tax rate increase on high earners. Republicans say government didn't spend as much then and that growth didn't really take off until the GOP took control of Congress in 1995.

So what actually happened in the '90s? What made them tick?

A Unique Boom

Pages