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In a statement early this morning, the Treasury Department says it's going to "exit" its investment in General Motors. The federal government holds just over 500 million shares of GM stock.

The automaker will buy 200 million of those shares, and the government will dispose of the rest "in an orderly fashion" over the next year and a half, depending on market conditions.

The Day Instagram Almost Lost Its Innocence

Dec 18, 2012

The wildly popular photo-sharing site Instagram nearly caused a user revolt when it revamped its terms of service and privacy policy to suggest it could allow uploaded photos to be used in ads without users' permission.

The change — which was posted in dense legalese on its website Monday — sparked users to vow to stop posting their color-filtered, tilt-shifted photos to Instagram.

It's a nervous time for companies that make and sell guns.

On Tuesday, Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm, announced it was selling its stake in Freedom Group, maker of the American Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, which was used in the Newtown killings last Friday, along with other brands such as Remington.

Despite a slowdown in U.S. consumption, coal is poised to replace oil as the world's top energy source — possibly in the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency. The rise will be driven almost entirely by new energy demands in China and India, the IEA says.

Behind a tall metal gate in a nondescript nook of Kabul sits the Bamboo Wood Industries factory. It's not a place you're likely to stumble across by accident. Inside, a handful of men are cutting, painting and assembling desks and cabinets. The pieces being made are chocolate brown and quite modern looking.

Sitting in a spartan, unheated office above the factory floor is Fatima Jafari, the owner of the company. The 30-something woman started the business a little over a year ago.

In some of the most potent cultural images we have of cool cars, they are being driven by young men — Ron Howard cruising in American Graffiti, cousins Bo and Luke from The Dukes of Hazzard sliding over the hood of the General Lee, James Dean behind the wheel of his Porsche.

A sharp drop in the cost of a gallon of gasoline helped pull consumer prices down 0.3 percent in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

According to BLS, gas prices plunged 7.4 percent last month.

Excluding the food and energy sectors, the so-called core rate of inflation rose just 0.1 percent.

Shawn Rux took over as principal of MS 53, a New York City middle school, last year. At the time, 50 or 60 kids were absent every day. You could understand why they stayed away: The school was chaos.

Twenty-two teachers had quit, the entire office staff had quit, and hundreds of kids had been suspended. The school was given a grade of F from the city's department of education.

"It was in a bad place," Rux says.

Thirty-year-old Alisha Mustafa spent years working at low-paying restaurant jobs. The unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent in her hometown of Bloomington, Ind.

"I've worked it all in this town," she says. "I've worked for so many restaurants, and last year was my year from hell in the industry."

So, she quit and started her own business. Now, she spends most days baking treats like gluten-free strawberry mango pie for her business, Mustafa Pie Co.

Eighteen months ago Eden Full was finishing up her sophomore year at Princeton University. She was on the crew team as a coxswain. She had spent the previous summer in Kenya building an innovative, low-cost contraption to make solar panels more efficient.

Full was glowingly successful — the kind of college student who ends up profiled in alumni magazines.

But Full had decided to drop out.

News from Chornyak & Associates

Dec 10, 2012

We at Chornyak & Associates wish our clients and friends all of the joys that the holiday season has to offer.  Let's all put aside our concerns for the country's financial future and have a truly peaceful and festive season with friends and family!  Columbus offers lots of holiday activities to extend the celebration outside the home.  

Saying that "we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term," News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch said this morning that The Daily will "cease standalone publication" on Dec. 15.

With the election over, attention in Washington has turned to the nation's debt and deficit challenges — most immediately the looming fiscal cliff. That's the $600 billion worth of expiring tax breaks and automatic spending cuts set to start taking effect Jan. 1.

The president and Congress agreed to those automatic measures to force themselves to find a more palatable compromise to rein in deficits. On Wednesday, there was an attempt to jump-start that process.

Fiscal cliff or bridge to the future?

Nov 6, 2012

Joe Chornyak discusses the "fiscal cliff" sometimes touted in the media, and its relationship to your investment portfolio.  

The nation's unemployment rate edged up to 7.9 percent in October from 7.8 percent in September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says.

But private and public employers added 171,000 jobs to their payrolls — nearly 50,000 more than economists had expected.

So the news is somewhat mixed: While the jobless rate remained stuck near 8 percent, job growth was better than forecast.

America's Most Expensive Storms

Oct 31, 2012

While we're on the subject of devastating storms, consider a report published last year by the National Hurricane Center. The title alone makes it worth a look:

THE DEADLIEST, COSTLIEST, AND MOST INTENSE UNITED STATES TROPICAL CYCLONES FROM 1851 TO 2010 (AND OTHER FREQUENTLY REQUESTED HURRICANE FACTS)

An oil boom is under way in the United States. Since 2008 domestic oil production has increased dramatically, reversing what was a nearly three-decade decline. That has some predicting the U.S. could overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest petroleum producer in coming years.

Rajat Gupta, who was once a director at Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble, has been sentenced to two years in prison, after a federal jury convicted him of insider trading.

Gupta was convicted of leaking information to Galleon Rajaratnam, the billionaire co-founder of Galleon Group who was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy.

If you shopped recently at 63 Barnes & Noble stores in nine states and used a credit or debit card there's a chance that thieves got hold of data about your accounts and your PIN.

As the company has announced:

The number of first-time claims for jobless benefits rose by 46,000 last week, to 388,000, the Employment and Training Administration says.

The previous week's total — 342,000 — was the fewest since early 2008. The increase last week put claims back into the range where they've been stuck for a year, between 350,000 and 400,000.

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