Economy & Innovation | St. Louis Public Radio

Economy & Innovation

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.

Graphic shows which Missouri banks got how much money
Beacon graphic | Brent Jones

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 5, 2009 - Banks in Missouri have received more than $641 million as part of the federal bailout so far, but that doesn't mean you can expect to see that money flowing out to would-be loan recipients any time soon.

The amounts of TARP money -- Troubled Asset Relief Program -- range from $295 million to Clayton-based First Banks down to $1 million to Calvert Financial Corp. in Ashland, Mo. The banks reached by the Beacon say they have no specific plans to make public how the funds are used beyond the regular reporting requirements.

Metro transit agency a casualty of AIG meltdown

Feb 1, 2009

This article firsy appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 1, 2009 - As hundreds of cities, counties, highway departments and other governmental agencies line up at the trough waiting for the government stimulus plan they hope will ease their economic woes, one item on Metro's wish list wouldn't cost the feds a penny -- at least for the moment.

Metro, the agency that runs the St. Louis area's mass transit system, is hoping the federal government will agree to stand behind the insurers of some of its debt.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 30, 2009 - "The Obama administration's stimulus bill," notes Columbia University sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh, "reflects the work of those hurrying to meet a deadline." And so they did: Voting along party lines, the House passed the president's $819 billion stimulus package 244 to 188 two days ago.

The accepted wisdom is that not acting with haste would prolong the downturn. Unfortunately, many accepted wisdoms have the nasty habit of being wrong.

80 employers show up at UMSL job fair

Jan 30, 2009

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 30, 2009 - No one needs a lesson in how bad the economy is when companies like Google and Microsoft are laying off thousands. Is anyone hiring? How can you find jobs?

The first question gets a yes. And to try to answer the second, we went to the job fair that the University of Missouri St. Louis. There, more than 80 businesses had set up shop and said they were hiring.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 28, 2009 - After nearly a decade working as an occupational therapist, Jeanne Hahn retired several years ago when she became eligible to receive Social Security. She sold her home, gave away most of her possessions and moved into a mobile home with her husband.

Through the social service agency Kingdom House, Hahn has earned a stipend by being a companion to a 103-year-old woman. But recently, the Fenton resident decided that her limited income wasn't enough.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 27, 2009 -Five weeks ago, one Wall Street analyst said "things can hardly get worse" for KV Pharmaceutical, the Brentwood-based maker of brand-name and generic drugs. He was commenting on a six-month period in which KV fired its chairman and CEO; launched an investigation into alleged management misconduct; failed to file timely quarterly financial results, withdrew fiscal-year predictions; was raided by federal regulators; and conducted three separate product recalls.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 27, 2009 - In the grand scheme of the U.S. mortgage meltdown, Stacy Haynes of St. Louis is just one in 2.3 million. 

That's the number of U.S. property owners who received foreclosure notices of some type in 2008, according to RealtyTrac.com, a Website that has become the trusted source of statistics on American Dreams gone bad.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 21, 2009 - On the day after President Barack Obama somberly told the nation that "we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,'' the question is:

How much dust are we talking about?

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?

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