Economy & Innovation

News about the economy, business, and innovation happening in the St. Louis region.

The news that China has surpassed Japan as the world's second largest economy sent a shiver through the collective soul of economic pundits. It needn't have.

During the late 1980s, we were warned of Japan's expanding economic machine. The Japanese economy was then expanding at a rate that made ours look puny. Everyone looked to Japan as the source for economic inspiration and guidance: Recall the movement to adopt their management techniques or face economic defeat?

The following is adapted from a presentation earlier this summer by Mark S. Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University, to the Shanghai Forum.

I think everyone can agree that the challenges we face in providing abundant energy at an affordable cost without adverse consequences on the environment is one of the largest, and arguably, most expensive challenges we face as a global community.

Just as there is no magic pill to cure a hangover, it will take time -- at least two more years -- for the United States to recover from the economic binging of the last decade, says a local economist who was sounding the alarm about over-leveraging and cash-out home refinancing, even while the housing market was still bubbling along in 2005 and 2006.

new look for thomas coffee on right
File photo | Rachel Heidenry | 2010

The morning's last batch of coffee beans was out of the roaster and still cooling, as Bob Betz, the president and CEO of Thomas Coffee, guided visitors through his refurbished plant at 922 South Boyle Ave.

Betz and his partners cut the ribbon in April on a new beginning for an old St. Louis brand, known for the little Scottish terrier on the bright blue can. They bought the plant for $1.2 million and spent 14 months putting their new business in order.

True confessions: I'm a technology evangelist.

I get really, really excited when technology is used to take an everyday need, habit, task or interest and make it somehow easier, better, indispensable, more accessible. Often, this takes things to the next level, creating space for new thoughts, new habits, new norms. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Friday's employment news from the U.S. Department of Labor was sobering: Even though the nation's unemployment rate for July remained unchanged at 9.5 percent, the nation gained just 12,000 jobs overall for the month -- a drop in the economic recovery bucket.

According to the report, private employers added a net total of 71,000 jobs in July, but that was offset by government cuts at the local, state and federal levels, analysts said.

Missouri's monthly income numbers continued their decline in July, but state Budget Director Linda Luebbering says the 4.2 percent drop -- compared to July 2009 -- was not unexpected.

"We're actually about right on track," Luebbering said in an interview today.

The current state budget, for the fiscal year that began on July 1, is based on an annual income increase of 2.3 percent. But Luebbering said said that budget crafters "knew we were going to start the year in the negative."

Peter Raven at work in China
Provided by the Missouri Botanical Gardens

Descriptions of Peter Raven's tenure as president of the Missouri Botanical Garden range from superlative to superlative.

"Since he put down roots here in 1971, Dr. Raven has been one of St. Louis' favorite exotics. He is a generous civic leader, consummate showman, wise counsel and world expert on biodiversity. I expect him to continue in all those roles," said St. Louis mayor Francis Slay in a statement to the Beacon.

Crown Square rehabbed 2010
File Photo | Rachel Heidenry | Beacon

Odessa Willis had been hearing about the redevelopment of a two-block section of North 14th Street where she once shopped on Saturday evenings, during a heyday that had become a memory, in a place that had become a symbol of failed urban renewal. She came to the party for the new Crown Square development Thursday afternoon to see for herself these historic buildings that have been reclaimed, rebuilt and reborn -- once again.

Odessa Willis comes home.

provided

One year after the NACA "Save the Dream Tour'' stopped in Cleveland, a local nonprofit advocacy group that offers foreclosure counseling in Ohio has posted a note on the front page of its website "reaching out to homeowners who've had difficulty with Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America."

Provided by Saint Louis Coworking

There’s something to be said for a traditional work routine of commuting downtown, entering a high-rise office building and chatting with coworkers before settling in for the day. That’s a new possibility for the people who will occupy a 10,000-square-foot room inside the Shell Building beginning Aug. 2.

On a miserably hot and steamy weekend last summer, struggling homeowners seeking mortgage salvation turned out by the thousands at the Chaifetz Arena for an event called "Save the Dream," a highly publicized multi-city foreclosure-prevention tour put on by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), a Boston-based nonprofit that touts "same-day permanent solutions."

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - While it can be argued that all levels of the lending industry played some part in the sub-prime mortgage collapse, economist William Emmons of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis adds another factor: household financial behavior.

Emmons believes the sub-prime mortgage meltdown was a long time coming and is linked to the downward trend in both U.S. personal and national saving.

Chris Krehmeyer
Provided by Beyond Housing

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - She is a 34-year-old married mother of two who is whittling away at $20,000 of debt – a saga she shares on her Web site www.paidtwice.com.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Congress will approve a housing bill that includes foreclosure relief for troubled American homeowners promptly after the Fourth of July recess, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Saturday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - The foreclosure numbers are staggering, acknowledges Colleen Hernandez, president and executive director of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation that manages 888-995-HOPE, a national hotline for Americans seeking counseling assistance.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Over the coming weeks, the Beacon, in partnership with KETC Channel 9, will be reporting on the sticky web of issues surrounding foreclosure - a crisis for nearly 2 million Americans, including thousands in the St. Louis region who have lost their stake in the American Dream.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - If you -- or someone you know -- are worried about making house payments, it's time to take action. Trouble is, mortgage talk is a language many homeowners do not understand. ARMs, resets, balloons ... and the dreaded F word: Foreclosure.

A sub-prime mortgage, for example, is not a reference to the interest rate of the loan but to the credit history of the borrowers.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Get help now. Open your mail. Answer the phone. Don't avoid those calls from your lender; deal with your mortgage problems while you still can.

Even as AmerenUE battled a new round of power outages brought on by weekend storms, the Missouri utility giant continues to ramp up its plan to move more and more of its most vulnerable electrical lines underground.

Underground wires

 

Photo courtesy of AmerenUE

Ameren Vice President Richard Mark shows the type of cables that are being put under ground to improve reliability.

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