Business news

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.

We often talk about the "farm lobby" as though farmers spoke with a unified voice. And it's true, they usually try to.

But an unusually bitter and public fight is breaking out right now between the farmers who grow corn and other farmers who need to buy that corn.

Stephen Covey, whose book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People became a seminal guide to leadership, died this morning.

In a statement, the family said Covey died due the "residual effects" of a biking accident he suffered in April. He was 79.

The Salt Lake Tribune gives us a bit of his biography:

The bad news: Retail sales fell 0.5 percent in June from May, the Census Bureau says. It's the third straight month that sales have been down from the month before.

But, Census adds that June sales were 3.8 percent above the pace of June 2011. And, "sales for the April through June 2012 period were up 4.7 percent ... from the same period a year ago."

What you need to know about Health Savings Accounts & more

Jul 12, 2012
Joseph Chornyak, Sr.
Chornyak & Associates

HSAs or Health Savings Accounts can provide significant tax deductions as well as help you deal with rising health care costs. However, they are not for everyone.  Please read this month's lead article to learn if an HSA makes sense for your family.

In my recent travels I've spoken with portfolio managers, analysts, and researchers from a wide variety of disciplines. The consensus of opinion is that we will continue to face market volatility as we move forward. Active portfolio management emphasizes diversification, focus, and a long-term perspective. ~ Joseph Chornyak, Sr.

Wells Fargo Bank agreed to pay at least $175 million Thursday to resolve allegations it discriminated against black and Latino home buyers, in what the Justice Department called the second largest settlement over fair lending violations.

The debate is back over what to do with the Bush tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

The Obama administration wants to extend them only for families earning less than $250,000 a year. Republicans generally favor extending them for everyone. What hangs in the balance are tax breaks for wealthier Americans.

Residents of San Bernardino woke up to suddenly find their city has been told "Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200." And oh, do they need money.

The Failure Of The Candy Tax

Jul 11, 2012

Last week, we re-aired an episode recorded in 2010 with economist Joshua Gans, author of the book Parentonomics. In the episode, Gans' 11-year old daughter, B., told us about his technique for keeping her from spending too much allowance money on candy:

The long economic downturn that began in late 2007 came to be known at the Great Recession –- the worst period since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Even though both events were momentous enough to earn the word "great" as a modifier, they really are not comparable, according to recent research by economist Mark Vaughan, a fellow at the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy at Washington University in St. Louis.

Back in the day, Madrid's Palace Hotel was Ernest Hemingway's old haunt, or at least the bar was. Now, rooms at the posh hotel just down from the famed Prado Museum go for up to $6,000 a night. And gathering in its lobby these days? An altogether different type of foreigner: the kind in expensive suits.

"Probably they are institutional investors, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds," says Federico Steinberg, an economist at Madrid's Elcano Institute.

There's a lot of cash around the world, he says, and a lot of people looking for bargains.