Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 19, 2009 - The St. Louis economy continued to weaken across the board in January and February -- and a majority of retailers and car dealers have a "pessimistic" outlook for the near future, according to a report released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Retail and car sales were down. So was overall activity in manufacturing, real estate and construction, according to the March edition of the "Burgundy Book," the Fed's quarterly summary of economic data for the St. Louis region, which covers 71 counties in eastern Missouri and 45 counties in Southern Illinois.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 19, 2009 - Even as the nation fixates on the employee bonuses handed out by taxpayer-bailed-out insurance giant AIG, the key to fixing the nation's economy still hinges on getting the banking system functioning again, says Alice Rivlin, a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve and budget director for President Bill Clinton.

Local inventor is key in printed books' future

Mar 10, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 10, 2009 - Jeff Marsh, the St. Louis inventor of the first machine that's said to print and bind a book without human intervention, credits his creativity to his grandfather. Marsh has fond memories of the rambling Victorian house where he grew up in a Detroit suburb. Within that house, he said, “I’d walk past the ceramics lab, the electronics lab, the geology lab. We made all our own bullets for our private shooting range. Growing up in that house gave me the feeling that I could do anything.”

More cost cutting coming at A-B InBev

Mar 5, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 5, 2009 - Anheuser-Busch InBev says it expects to save more money by cost-cutting that it had originally expected, adding that the expense reductions won't result in more layoffs.

Top executives on Thursday commented on early results of the Nov. 18 acquisition of Anheuser-Busch by InBev, saying that U.S. operations performed well -- gaining market share and raising revenue -- during a tough October-December quarter.

Head to head: New beer giants plan for sharp competition

Mar 3, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 3, 2009 - Two new companies are continuing a decades-old battle for dominance in the U.S. beer market.

There's the "new" Anheuser-Busch InBev, created by the November takeover. And there's the new corporate structure for the Miller and Coors brands, created in mid-2008 through a U.S.-operations joint venture by Molson Coors and SABMiller.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 3, 2009 - Last month, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law a historic economic stimulus package that will spend $787 billion in the hopes of pulling the U.S. out of the recession.

The package has several parts.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 3, 2009 - The federal government’s new attack on the nation’s frozen credit markets has a difficult-to-understand name with an easy-to-understand price tag: $200 billion.

The program, dubbed the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF, for short), is a combined effort of the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve that will provide $200 billion to investors to encourage lending to consumers and small businesses. And they’re moving quickly.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 2, 2009 - Are you concerned that Social Security will go broke before you reach retirement age?

Michael Astrue, the commissioner of the Social Security Administration, certainly isn't.

Not only that, but Astrue -- who was appointed to the post by President George W. Bush -- believes the issue of insolvency will be addressed before the end of President Barack Obama's first term in office.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 27, 2009 - We've grown accustomed to our entitlements. Too bad we don't want to pay for them.

It seems that to get re-elected, Democrats utter the phrase "no tax increase." For Republicans, the mantra is "lower taxes." Unfortunately, this political pandering stands in stark contrast to reality. If we are not willing to reduce the coverage of programs such as Medicare or Social Security, taxes must rise to meet future funding needs.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 27, 2009 - You wouldn't know it by the news headlines, but not all business owners and managers are laying off workers during the recession.

Some, like Bob Brinkmann, head of Brinkmann Constructors  in Chesterfield, are managing through these stressful times by becoming more skillful leaders of their companies.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 27, 2009 - Ameren chief Richard Mark issued the following the statement in regard to Gov. Jay Nixon's stance (detailed below) on a measure, backed by the utility, that would allow it charge Missouri customers for the financing in connection with a proposed new nuclear plant. As it stands, a 1970s law bars such charges before the plant is in operation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 26, 2009 - St. Louis urban developer Richard Baron doesn't waste words summarizing what he believes the nation's cities need to start fixing decades of neglected blight: A plan.

Baron, the chairman of McCormack, Baron and Salazar, was to deliver the keynote address Feb. 27 at a Saint Louis University symposium on the complex relationship between property ownership and economic stability. His topic: "Urban Neighborhoods: Can the Stimulus Package Reverse the Course of the Last 40 Years?"

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 25, 2009 - For people who have lost their jobs or are afraid that time might come, networking is often the first step toward new employment. But where to turn?

A new initiative called the Go! Network is attracting hundreds of job hunters to weekly Tuesday morning seminars and breakout sessions. A group of corporate and nonprofit sponsors, including the United Way of Greater St. Louis (which initiated the effort) and Anheuser-Busch, are collaborating to offer these events, where human relations managers and other speakers dispatch tips on everything from polishing resumes to networking to "branding yourself."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 24, 2009 - WASHINGTON - Sen. Claire McCaskill, a government reformer from the moment she arrived in Washington, saw the massive cost of the economic stimulus plan of 2009 and immediately knew what she had to do - focus on bringing accountability and transparency.

For Rep. Jerry Costello, chairman of the House aviation panel, the measure is a chance to make critically needed improvements in the safety and efficiency of the nation's aviation system.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 23, 2009 - What if a person goes to his or her bank branch to make a routine withdrawal and encounters a big sign that says "Out of business - Your money is gone." Ha, you say - this is America and that sort of thing doesn't happen here.

It is true there have been no bank failures with accompanying losses of depositors' funds since the 1930s. (Keep in mind that it happened frequently then).

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 23, 2009 - Speculation that major U.S. banks such as Citigroup and Bank of America could be nationalized has been sending shivers down the economy's already shaky spine.

While the Obama administration has said it does not want to nationalize banks, the concept has been raised by such diverse voices as Sen. Lindsey Graham R-S.C., and Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 18, 2009 - Here's the big question regarding President Barack Obama's massive $75 billion government effort to stem the foreclosure crisis: Will it work?

"There's no telling, but I think this is a better blueprint than anything we've had so far,'' said Karen Wallensak, executive director of the Catholic Charities Housing Resource Center in St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 17, 2009 - With just six weeks until Metro makes the largest service cuts in the agency's history, riders and employers are scrambling to find transportation alternatives to get people who depend on Metro to their jobs.

Now even some municipalities are getting involved in the scramble.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 17, 2009 - Congressional districts that include parts of the St. Louis area would add or preserve 60,000 jobs because of the stimulus package passed by Congress last week, according to figures released by the White House Tuesday.

The numbers came out a few hours before President Barack Obama was set to sign the plan into law at a ceremony in Denver.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 16, 2009 - Paul Allen will retain a prominent but smaller role in Charter Communications after the cable TV giant completes its bankruptcy reorganization.

Assuming the plan is approved by lenders and a bankruptcy court, Allen, who will remain chairman, will no longer control the nominating and voting for all members of the board of directors.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 16, 2009 - Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" has a simple solution for stimulating the U.S. economy and solving the nation's financial crisis: Forget the banks. Put those trillions of dollars directly into the hands of the consumers to pay off their mortgages and consumer debt.

Stewart reasons that the money will end up in the banks anyway, taxpayers will know where all their dollars really went -- and everyone gets a clean start.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 16, 2009 - Bills in Congress that promise a lot of money to a lot of places for a lot of projects often are likened to Christmas trees, but for Garry Earls of St. Louis County, the newly passed $787 billion stimulus package brings another holiday to mind.

"It will be a great race, maybe more like an Easter egg hunt," said Earls, who is the chief operating officer of St. Louis County.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 13, 2009 - The Obama administration's honeymoon lasted about as long as a quickie wedding in Tijuana. After only a couple of weeks in harness, even the liberal New York Times has excoriated the most recent plan to fix the financial mess. And while some will lay off the blame on the Bush administration, just remember that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was an architect of that plan, too.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 13, 2009 - A temporary moratorium on foreclosures announced Friday by two of the nation's biggest lenders will temporarily stop the clock and buy precious time for homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure, say St. Louis area housing counselors.

"Anything that gives us a little more time, leverage and resources to keep people in their homes is a good thing,'' said Chris Krehmeyer, executive director of Beyond Housing, a nonprofit housing agency that counsels troubled homeowners.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 11, 2009 - AmerenUE and other Missouri utilities are attempting to overturn a 1976 consumer protection law in order to pay for the construction of a $6 billion nuclear power plant. The law, called the No Construction Work In Progress (No-CWIP), makes it illegal for utility companies to charge rate-payers for power plants before they are fully constructed. State Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, is sponsoring Senate Bill 228 , which, if passed, would permit the utility to charge higher rates to consumers so it can have lower finance charges while building the plant.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 10, 2009 - T.R. Carr doesn't mince words about his opinion of East West Gateway's study of  tax-increment financing in the region. The study concluded that the region gave $2.5 billion in tax breaks over 15 years but got little in return. 

"They got it wrong," said the mayor of Hazelwood and a professor of public administration at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 10, 2009 - It is difficult to overstate the seismic changes that occurred in the United States and globally during 2008. The events of this past year shook the financial, political and social foundations of American life. While much remains to play out, several observations can safely be made now.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 10, 2009 - Boston had its "Big Dig." Some call the Interstate 64-Highway 40 reconstruction the "Big Fix."

Now comes the "Big Idea."

That's what Mike Jones, senior adviser to County Executive Charlie Dooley, says that "we and the Chinese are calling" an idea to turn St. Louis into a hub for China's Midwestern trade.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 10, 2009 - While the House and Senate get down to work on a compromise between their two multibillion-dollar stimulus packages, many economists remain unconvinced that the big-money spending plans will solve the nation's financial plight.

"I would say that a large part of this is motivated by the notion that politicians want to be seen as doing something," John Howe of the University of Missouri at Columbia said Tuesday morning as the Senate was approving its version of the stimulus bill.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 8, 2009 - Sure, we all know that life isn't fair, but American taxpayers are discovering that life during a recession may be the unfairest time of all.

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