Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 19, 2009 - Forget the outdated notion that the casino gambling business is recession-resistant. The debt-drenched industry is so weakened that credit-rating agencies say any chance of a turnaround won't come until late 2009 or early 2010.

Each of the four publicly traded companies owning Missouri casinos suffered stock price declines of 60 percent or more for the 12 months ended Jan. 15. The S&P 500-stock index was down 39 percent.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 19, 2009 - Everybody seems to have a humorous story about a parent, elderly friend -- or themselves - who fumbled a technology challenge on a PC or a TV remote control. It is a fact that swift-changing technology will leave some people in the dust -- and comfort -- of old hardware and machinery.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 18, 2009 - Gentle Reader: Be forewarned. This is a gloom and doom column, although it ends on notes of optimism and opportunity.

Does anyone believe the government’s plans to fix the economic crisis are going to work? I refer to the plan to spend zillions of dollars and take over various industries.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 5, 2009 - Opportunity is knocking, say area Realtors who are pinning their hopes on first-time homebuyers willing to take advantage of bargain prices, low-interest mortgages and a temporary federal tax credit.

"That first-time buyer really needs to come out," said St. Louis Realtor Marty Ribaudo of RE/MAX Associates Plus, echoing a sentiment shared by the region's housing industry that it's going to take motivated first-time homebuyers to jumpstart the slumping market.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 6, 2009 - Gov.-elect Jay Nixon chose a visit to City Sprouts, a children's shop in the Loop, to announce his plan to appoint Linda M. Martinez to head the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Martinez is a member of the Bryan Cave law firm and specializes in financial and development issues. In a statement at the store, she said tough economic times required Missouri to "take bold steps to create and retain good-paying jobs."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 2, 2009 - When economic times get tough, the wise get going -- to the public library, that is. As the economy squeezes many St. Louisans' budgets, area libraries are reporting increases in usage: More people are visiting and more material is circulating.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 27, 2008 - Recessions don't take a holiday, and Tuesday's numbers on home sales were more proof of what economists have been warning: This is far from over.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 27, 2008 - Heat-Up St. Louis knows the drill.

Requests for energy assistance tend to spike following snowy and icy conditions such as those that swept through the area recently. This year, though, has been different. Many households were desperate for help long before the start of winter.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2008 - What do MetroLink, a child-care facility in Wellston and the Danforth Plant Science Center have in common?

They are all -- in some form or other -- on St. Louis County's "wish list" for President-elect Barack Obama's national economic recovery program.

This article first appeared in th St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2008 - Christmas might come early in 2009 -- or at least that's what local and state government officials are hoping, and planning, for.

Many of them have been busy putting together what St. Louis County Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls laughingly called a "Christmas wish list," a compilation of projects they hope they can get funded from the federal recovery program.

Is Illinois coal industry poised for a comeback?

Dec 23, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 23, 2008 - After two decades of plunging and then stagnating coal production, the Illinois coal industry believes it can see some light at the end of the mine shaft.

"The prospects are better than any time since 1970," says Joe Angleton, who has viewed the declining coal industry as a member and officer of the United Mine Workers of America and, most recently, as director of the office of mines and minerals in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 23, 2008 - U.S. foreclosures keep coming - and for many, it's the second time around

As 2008 ends, St. Louis housing counselor Eric Madkins, who counsels troubled borrowers facing foreclosure, says his phone is still ringing, and he's seeing firsthand evidence of a troubling trend: homeowners in trouble for a second time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 22, 2008 - WASHINGTON - Now that an assistance package is finally on the way to Detroit's automakers, after weeks of pleading from the Big Three and plenty of heated political rhetoric from both sides of the congressional aisle, a fundamental question remains:

Will this save the U.S. auto industry?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 19, 2008 - As details of financial shenanigans perpetrated by fallen Wall Street gurus become public, the blame game is revving up. The Madoff scandal is quickly engulfing others. From his family to his cronies on Wall Street to Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, there is plenty of blame going around. And why not? After all, it appears that the losses stemming from Madoff's Ponzi scheme will surpass the GDP of many countries.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 19, 2008 - Here's what the great auto industry meltdown of 2008 looks like to Darin Gilley, president of Local 1760 of the United Auto Workers: His local has gone from 650 to 15 current active members and is on the verge of dissolving; he is unemployed.

This article first appeared in the St Louis Beacon, Dec. 17, 2008 - The Federal Reserve's decision to cut an important interest rate to a record low of 0.25 percent begs the question: What's next? Goose eggs?

The Fed vowed Tuesday that it would take aggressive action in the face of the worsening recession, including cutting its target interest rate of 1 percent by three-quarters. The interest rate is an overnight bank lending rate known as the federal funds rate. In a statement released at the conclusion of a two-day meeting, the Fed also said that interest rates would remain low "for some time" and that it would consider other efforts to boost the economy, such as the purchase of U.S. Treasury bonds.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 15, 2008 - Mall owners are getting nervous as the domino effect of a recession works its way through the retail sector.

The formula for anxiety is based on years of aggressive expansion and the inhaling of debt to finance growth. Now, the bills are coming due when consumer confidence is low, unemployment is rising and retailers are struggling.

Congregations lack sanctuary from economic woes

Dec 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 15, 2008 - Many St. Louis area religious congregations are experiencing four facets of the economic downturn.

Commentary: Illinois ignores red ink at its peril

Dec 7, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 7, 2008 - Illinois is drifting toward a mediocrity that could deny our kids and grandkids the economic opportunity and quality of life that have lifted generation after generation in this heartland hub. Yet, most residents do not sense the urgency, do not understand the depth and breadth of an unprecedented budgetary meltdown and do not trust their leaders any more than their leaders trust each other.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 5, 2008 - Economic expansion, which began in November 2001, ended in December 2007. Although it took some time, the National Bureau of Economic Research, the widely recognized arbiter of when recessions begin and end, has made the call. The U.S. economy officially has been in a recession for about a year.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 4, 2008 - The Saint Louis Galleria's corporate parent, Chicago-based General Growth Properties, is on the brink of bankruptcy, prompting company leaders to offer their portfolio of 200 malls – in part or en masse – for sale.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 4, 2008 - In a syndicated column that ran in the Nov. 30 Post-Dispatch, Kathleen Parker reported on a new study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute that sought to measure the civic literacy of the American public. The findings were predictably grim.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 2, 2008 - When economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research announced on Monday that the United States has been in a recession since December 2007, the stock market took another plunge.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 1, 2008 - To construct a global financial meltdown, start with some building blocks called "mortgage-backed securities."

What are they?

In a nutshell: A borrower goes to a lender to arrange financing to buy a house. The lender gives the borrower the money but then sells the loan – or portions of it – to a third-party financial company. That company further divvies up the loan among investors who will share the profits from the loan repayment but also the risk should the homeowner default.

Gingerbread makes home, (really) sweet home

Nov 30, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 30, 2008 - Surrounded by soaring foreclosures, falling interest rates and crashing markets, one house stands recession proof through the holidays: The gingerbread house.

Made with a tasty mortar and inspired by the dreams of two German brothers, whose stories of Hansel and Gretel brought the fantasy of an edible abode to life, the gingerbread house is a tradition that has weathered the ages and continues to delight.

Commentary: Food for all: a tough order, but a noble goal

Nov 25, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 25, 2008 - Thanksgiving 2008, in the midst of an economic downturn, reminds us to remember our many blessings. Among mine has been the opportunity to work in company with dedicated friends and colleagues for causes in which I believe. I will mention two.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 24, 2008 - While falling gas prices and holiday retail bargains may be welcome news to cash-strapped consumers, economists have started tossing around a new term: deflation.

And they don't seem pleased about it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 21, 2008 - The auto industry is pulling out all stops to secure a place at the public trough. In the latest development, Congress has given the automakers an ultimatum: No plan no bailout.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 21, 2008 - There are no heroes to be found in today's economic crisis, and it won't be over any time soon, says St. Louis economist Murray Weidenbaum.

"I've been saying for some time that this is going to be a long, deep recession; we're not going to come quickly out of it. I hope that some time next year we'll be hitting bottom and the economy will start turning up -- but not dramatically,'' Weidenbaum told the Beacon on Thursday.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 19, 2008 - Washington University Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton warned students and faculty to expect a "significant reduction" in spending during the next fiscal year due to deteriorating economic conditions. The expected spending cuts will affect capital projects, staff positions, and pay raises, he said.

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