DJIA: 17,712.66  +34.43 (0.19%) | NASDAQ: 4,891.219  +27.857 (0.57%) | S&P 500: 2,061.02  +4.87 (0.24%) Markets closed

  • Show Article Details

    U.S. economic growth cooled in the fourth quarter as previously reported and after-tax corporate profits recorded their biggest drop since early 2011, as a strong dollar dented the earnings of multinational corporations. Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual rate last quarter, the Commerce Department said on Friday in its third estimate of GDP.

  • Show Article Details

    The U.S. federal funds rate, which banks charge each other to borrow their excess reserves, averaged 0.11 percent on Thursday, down from 0.12 percent on Wednesday, Fed data released early Friday showed.

  • Show Article Details

    A representative from the Greek Ministry of Finance on Friday rebuffed rumors that the country's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is resigning. Earlier on Friday, German newspaper Bild had suggested the controversial minister would leave his post after a series of incidents in the press and amid heightened tensions with Greece's international lenders. We were laughing when we heard it, "said Dimitris Yannopoulos from the finance ministry.

  • Show Article Details

    By Nektaria Stamouli and Viktoria Dendrinou. Athens aims to submit overhauls by Monday. Greece is hurrying to compile a list of economic overhauls that satisfies its creditors and secures desperately need bailout aid, as it runs increasingly low on cash and debt payments loom.

  • Show Article Details

    The Federal Reserve's core concerns on inflation are far from over. The Labor Department on Thursday said its measure of consumer prices fell 0.7% in January from December, putting it 0.1% below its year-earlier level. That marked its first annual decline since 2009..

  • Show Article Details

    The New York Federal Reserve officials tasked with prying interest rates off the floor have been meeting with bankers and traders to plot how best to do it, amid deep uncertainty over how much control they will really have over short-term lending markets.

  • Show Article Details

    Arizona could soon become the latest state to block women from purchasing insurance plans through the federal health-care exchanges that cover abortion. The trend started soon after the Affordable Care Act created the marketplaces, granting states the power to decide if and how Obamacare plans cover termination.Supporters argue Arizona’s controversial measure will stop taxpayer money from funding procedures some deem immoral. The bill sailed through the state House and Senate this week, and it now awaits approval or veto from Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican.After the Affordable Care Act passed, President Obama signed an executive order emphasizing no federal funds can be used to cover abortions beyond the Hyde Amendment limitations. In other words, the government won’t pay for terminations unless a woman’s life is threatened, or unless the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.Some Republicans don’t think that’s nearly enough. It’s hard to track if insurers are truly separating funds, they say. Last year, the Government Accountability Office examined 18 plans in 10 states with no laws restricting abortion coverage. They found 17 of 18 issuers were not separately billing consumers.The bill’s detractors, however, point out that paying for so-called “elective” abortions with federal dollars is already illegal. The Arizona bill won’t save any ideologically opposed taxpayers a dime, they say; but it will further limit health-care options for the neediest women.As of last year, more than 1,000 plans in 28 states provide some coverage for elective abortions. Twenty-four states restrict coverage for service. Five have also passed laws banning coverage under private insurance markets. The Kaiser Family Foundation created a handy map showing coverage differences across the country:Health economists argue squashing access to abortion contributes to a disproportionately high rate of unplanned births among low-income women, who have the least resources to absorb the economic shockwaves of unexpected family additions. That drives inequality.Well-off women who face unplanned pregnancies are far more likely to have abortions, recent research from the Brookings Institution found: Thirty-two percent of those surveyed in the highest income bracket had an abortion in the past year, compared to 9 percent of poor pregnant women, likely deterred by financial barriers.Equalizing abortion rates, researchers calculated, could reduce the unintended birth ratio by a third.About 40 percent of the country’s estimated 3.1 million uninsured women of reproductive age (and who are eligible for tax credits) can enroll in a marketplace plan that provides abortion coverage, according to Kaiser data. Sixty percent, however, don’t have that option. Roughly 1.6 million women live in states that banned abortion coverage through Obamacare plans.That creates staggering out-of-pocket costs for women seeking the procedure. A clinic-based abortion at 10 weeks gestation costs between $400 and $550, Kaiser reports said. An abortion at 20 weeks — which can be recommended if a woman is having severe but not necessarily life-threatening health problems, or if serious abnormalities are detected in the fetus — can cost more than $1,600.Limiting access to the procedure in some areas might fuel health disparities across racial groups. A study published this year in the New England Journal of Medicine found black newborns covered by Medicaid were nearly twice as likely to die from an anomaly in states without Medicaid coverage of abortion as in states with such coverage.And curbing termination in, say, Arizona might not reduce the country’s aggregate number of procedures performed. A NBER paper analyzing abortion rates from 1974 to 1988 found implementing restrictions on Medicaid funding for abortion diminished the amount of in-state services but drove up rates among nearby states, “suggesting one of the main effects of these policies is to induce cross-state migration for abortion.”The GAO report didn’t investigate whether providers illegally used federal subsidies to pay for elective procedures, The Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee notes over on Fact Checker. The Department of Health and Human Services has since issued new regulations to clarify abortion billing requirements.The Arizona Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “strongly opposes” the latest procedure-blocking bill because it “allows the Arizona government to decide what private insurance plans can offer to patients,” Eric Reuss, treasurer of the medical group, wrote in a recent column for the Arizona Republic. “The exclusion of abortion coverage from marketplace plans denies women the option to choose insurance that covers all manner of health care.”Abortion coverage, arguably the most hotly debated issue in American health care, was among the last issues negotiated when lawmakers passed the Affordable Care Act. The compromises necessary to move the law forward satisfied pretty much no one, regardless of political leanings.Before Obamacare became law, the House passed an amendment that would have prohibited any plans in the marketplaces from receiving federal subsidies if they covered abortion. Democrats quickly rallied against the measure, proposing instead that states could individually prohibit abortion coverage in their ACA health insurance marketplace, and plans providing such coverage must divide funds so that no federal dollars are spent on the services.Nowadays, some states use their own funds to cover medically necessary abortions. Some have opted to prevent private insurers from covering the procedure. Several have enacted private plan restrictions and have also banned abortion coverage from Obamacare plans -- some more restrictive than the Hyde limitations. And the economic disparities persist.




  • Show Article Details

    NEW YORK-- Pitifully low interest rates throughout much of the developed world have forced currency traders to search for yield in far-flung locales. So strategists at Barclays have suggested borrowing in new Taiwan dollars or Singapore dollars, and investing in the Indian rupee. "Some are good stories, some are not," explained Jose Wynne, head of foreign exchange research at Barclays.

  • Show Article Details

    Someday the Chinese currency might buckle under the weight of a slowing economy. Beijing will make sure this isn't the year for that to happen. The Chinese yuan has strengthened mightily in the past couple of weeks, and is now just about where it started the year versus the dollar.

  • Show Article Details

    Unit would join dollar, euro in IMF basket. LOS ANGELES-- In what would be a huge milestone in China's emergence as a major world financial power, the International Monetary Fund looks likely to adopt the country's currency into the basket that makes up its global forex benchmark. Or so say strategists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, writing in a note Wednesday that they believe the IMF will vote this October to include the yuan as one of the units that make up the Fund's "Special...

  • Show Article Details

    Regulators on Thursday gave MetLife Inc. (MET) a six-month extension to file a "living will." Under the ruling by the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., MetLife (MET) will submit its first resolution plan on Dec. 31, 2016. "Living will" plans, designed by companies with oversight from regulators, lay out a path that would allow the companies to declare bankruptcy if necessary without taxpayer assistance. MetLife (MET) is challenging in federal court its designation as a...

  • Show Article Details

    For details of foreign central banks' holdings of U.S. marketable securities held at the Federal Reserve, see: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h41/Current/h41.pdf.

  • Show Article Details

    For details of the Federal Reserve's money supply report, see: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h41/current/h41.pdf. http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/current/h6.pdf. http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h3/current/h3.pdf.

  • Show Article Details

    Market volatility was back in full force Thursday, as stocks seesawed throughout the afternoon before closing slightly in the red. Equities have been unpredictable since an unexpected slide in durable goods orders on Wednesday provided investors with another sign the U.S. economy could be on weaker footing.

  • Show Article Details

    It’s an old adage, that “an economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.”But perhaps that doesn’t give them enough credit.In late 2013, Capital Business asked a number of local economy watchers and business leaders to predict how the region’s economy would fare in 2014. We solicited their forecasts for job growth, house prices, the stock market, and the year-end unemployment rates for Maryland, Virginia and the District.Some predictions, naturally, missed the mark. James Bohnaker’s didn’t.Bohnaker, who at the time worked as an economist at Moody’s Analytics in Washington, proved to have the most clairvoyance out of all the experts, only barely missing the mark on every one of the regional economic measures. He predicted, for instance, that the Washington area would add 50,000 jobs last year, closer than any other forecast to data that came out this week, showing that the region added 46,300 jobs between January 2013 and January 2014.Close on his heels was Gregory Leisch, chief executive at Delta Associates, a real estate analysis firm, who estimated the region would add 42,000 jobs. Our panel’s predictions ranged from a low of 17,500 to a high of 58,500.“I would love to say I was fully confident about that prediction, but there’s always a little luck involved,” Bohnaker, now an economist at CBRE Group (CBG), a real estate investment firm, said in an interview. He noted that, had political crises such as the near-miss debt ceiling breach come to fruition, “those who predicted job growth of 20,000 could have very well been overshooting it.”As it were, the D.C. area economy bounced back slightly from a tough year in 2013, but it continued to struggle to keep pace with the rest of the country.“When you compare it to most of the other big metro areas, particularly those in Texas and California and New York, it doesn’t look so great,” Bohnaker said. Indeed, the New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston metropolitan areas all experienced job growth well into the six-figures last year.It could have been worse, though. The Washington region has gotten a much-needed lift from the resilient tourism and hospitality sectors, Bohnaker said, which has continued to add jobs throughout the downturn.“A lot of people are still visiting both domestically and internationally, both for business and for pleasure,” he added. “The downside of that is that people in those industries aren’t paid as well, so you’re left with a greater share of people working in low-wage jobs.”Bohnaker’s predictions for unemployment levels in our local jurisdictions weren’t far off the mark, either, but they didn’t have quite the accuracy of James C. Dinegar’s forecasts. Dinegar, chief executive at the Greater Washington Board of Trade, overestimated Maryland’s end-of-year jobless rate (which landed at 5.6 percent) by four-tenths of a point and the District’s (which ended the year at 7.7 percent) by only one tenth of a point.Virginia? Nailed it. Dinegar correctly predicted the Commonwealth’s unemployment rate would finish the year at 4.9 percent.Collectively, then, Dinegar missed the unemployment marks by 0.5 points. Others who were dialed in include Stephen Fuller, director at the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University (over by 1.1 points for all three jurisdictions), Bohnaker (over by 1.2 points) and DeRionne P. Pollard, president of Montgomery College (over by 1.4 points). Interestingly, not one member of our panel predicted a lower unemployment level that what actually happened in any of the three jurisdictions.(Fuller, it’s worth noting, also came remarkably close on the one non-local measure we asked about. He predicted the S&P 500 would close the year at 2,055. It finished at 2058.9, missing by less than four points. By comparison, the average gap for the rest of our panelists was more than 200 points) ()Moving forward, even as employers start looking to bring on more workers, Dinegar says the local labor market will face new challenges, particularly as companies search for qualified candidates to fill their openings.“I think we’re going to see employers start to struggle with recruitment and retainment — challenges we haven’t seen in many years,” Dinegar said. “We’re going to see candidates turning down offers, because they’re getting better ones elsewhere, and that’s something employers will have to figure out.”Our team also asked for home price estimates, and Bohnaker, along with Goodwill of Greater Washington Chief Executive Catherine Meloy, seem to have the clearest vision on that front. Bohnaker prognosticated that the area’s year-end median home price would be around $405,000. Meloy thought it would close the year around $410,000.It landed almost smack dab in the middle, at $408,000.“I have to laugh,” Meloy said when asked about the accuracy of her prediction. “It’s just dumb luck, to tell the truth.”However, it doesn’t take a crystal ball, or even any insider knowledge, to understand why prices have been on the rise, she said.“There’s so much demand right now, and we’re seeing people sell their houses in three days, five days, seven days,” Meloy said. “Houses just aren’t staying on the market very long, and as a result, home prices are going to go up. It doesn’t take a housing genius to figure that one out.”That isn’t likely to change any time soon. With more outsiders moving to the Washington area, and research suggesting that baby boomers are migrating back into the city, she expects home prices to continue rising gradually, reaching a median of $425,000 by the end of 2015.More broadly, how will the Washington area economy fare in 2015?“I think it’s going to be a strong year,” Meloy said. “We weren’t hit quite as hard by the weather as up north, and I think that will allow for a decent — not great, but decent — first quarter. After that, I think there’s reason to believe we will see a good year.”“I expected better out of 2014,” Dinegar added. “I think 2015 will be the year 2014 was supposed to be.”Bohnaker was slightly more cautious. He predicted the D.C. area would add roughly 66,000 jobs this year, calling for “a slight improvement in the local economy — but not a huge improvement.”Follow J.D. Harrison and On Small Business on Twitter.




  • Show Article Details

    A champion is crowned based on real estate data where the schools are located. If you have Gonzaga University as the national champion in your March Madness men's basketball bracket, you might just be a good real estate investor. Irvine, Calif.--based RealtyTrac.com set up its own NCAA bracket challenge for the 16 remaining teams in the tournament, using real-estate data based on where the schools are located instead of basketball-based statistics.

  • Show Article Details

    Often before I patronize a business or buy a product, I go online to see what others experienced. I don’t always take every word as the truth, but the tales of woe and praise help in my decision to spend my money.Online reviews can be helpful, but for some businesses, a bad review can lead to losses. So, some businesses are fighting back and suing individual reviewers, writes The Washington Post’s Justin Jouvenal.“Lawsuits over negative reviews have risen in recent years with the popularity of sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor (TRIP) and others that allow users to rate and provide feedback on businesses,” Jouvenal writes. “The reviews have become an increasingly important factor in generating new customers — or sending them fleeing.”Jouvenal profiles one such customer who wrote a negative review about a dog obedience class. The dog owner, Jennifer Ujimori, was hit with a $65,000 defamation lawsuit.The Virginia woman is fighting the lawsuit to make a point: “People should be free to express their feelings about their service providers. Companies using the legal system to silence their critics has a chilling effect on First Amendment rights,” Ujimori said.The customer in this case hopes to get Virginia legislators to pass what is known as an anti-SLAPP law, which allows judges to quickly dismiss cases that involve First Amendment rights. SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” according to Cornell University Law School.Many states have adopted anti-SLAPP laws in “the interest of protecting free speech” and to “provide for speedy hearings of the claims and the possibility of the defendant recovering legal fees and punitive damages,” the law school’s Web site says. The District, Maryland and more than half of the states have anti-SLAPP laws, Jouvenal reported.This is a fascinating story, and if you frequently write reviews, you should read it.Color of Money Question of the WeekDo you think customers have the right — with immunity — to voice their complaints online if they are unhappy with a service or product? Send your comments to colorfomoney@washpost.com. Please include your name, city and state. I’m not a fan of anonymous comments.Live chat canceledI’m so sorry, but today’s regularly scheduled online chat is canceled. Please join me next week, and check out the transcript of last week’s chat if you missed it. We had some really good discussions.Sales begoneFrequent retail sales may be going the way of the dinosaur, writes Sarah Halzack, The Post’s national retail reporter.When the economy tanked, retailers enticed customers into their stores by holding more sales. But the deep discounts didn’t end as the economy picked up. Why?“Shoppers had become hooked on deals and weren’t ready to give them up,” Halzack writes.But the super sale ride may be over. As Halzack writes, a stronger economy is causing some retailers to “put the brakes on their years-long promotional ride in hope that they can retrain shoppers to buy things at full price.”But will it work?Experts don’t think so, Halzack says, “Retailers are likely going to face a serious challenge in weaning consumers off the drug of promotional pricing.”But keep this in mind even when you buy things on sale: You never save when you spend. You may spend less, but you are not actively saving.Don’t show me the moneyI was touched last week by a number of stories about professional football players who have decided to take a knee and quit the game despite their multimillion-dollar contracts. They walked for a number of reasons, including concerns about their health.So I asked: If you had an opportunity to make millions, could you walk away from the money like those guys did?Devon Brown from Stuttgart, Germany, wrote: “For the sake of my health and how this would affect my family, I would definitely walk away from the opportunity to make millions. But before doing so I would get all my financial affairs together and have a plan on how my family and I would adjust our lifestyles, since we might have a significant drop in discretionary funds. Lastly, I would become an advocate for other individuals looking to make this decision in case they needed personal testimony or guidance moving forward.”Loved that comment. It’s definitely what I would suggest, which is learn to live below your new means.Troy Miller from Nebraska had a different take. “Would not walk away,” he wrote. “Love the game. Risk versus benefits is a no-brainer.”Even just three years in the National Football League versus 30-plus years in a factory seems worth the risk, Miller said. But he acknowledges, “I grew up and live in rural Nebraska, so football is like breathing.”Wrote Norman St. Amour of Harrisburg, Pa.: “I would walk away if the conditions were illegal or the risk to life and limb was too high. A million dollars and the financial security it could buy, if you manage it right, would be very hard to refuse.”One reader really understands the decision to stop playing football.Lorna Gilkey of Alexandria, Va., wrote: “My perspective is unique in that I worked for the NFL Players Association in the 1990s and have a son who played football, and he suffered a serious concussion that 10 years later is still adversely affecting his health. Having millions of dollars (If you manage it wisely!) is great. However, it cannot buy you good health. I’ve seen far too many players, and my own child, suffer due to the harsh realities of football injuries. So, yes, I could walk away from the millions in protection of my health. Being alive and healthy means you can find other ways to legitimately make millions. But once you’ve hurt your brain to the level these players do on the field, no amount of millions will give you the quality of life you need later on.”Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com.




  • Show Article Details

    By Myra P. Saefong and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch. Middle East tension, fall in global equities help lift gold above $1,200. SAN FRANCISCO-- Gold futures rallied past $1,200 an ounce on Thursday to settle at their highest level since early March as investors backed away from riskier assets amid a selloff for global equities and increased tension in the Middle East.

  • Show Article Details

    The information of greater wealth inequality continues to come in. The latest addition to this trend comes from Realty Trac, a provider of housing data, which leads off with a headline that "Home Price Appreciation Outpaces Wage Growth in 76 Percent of U. S. Markets During Housing Recovery." Must Read: Warren Buffett's Top 10 Dividend Stocks.