Friday, August 01, 2008

Microsoft and Monopoly

Microsoft and Monopoly
Microsoft is the most famous company in the world, everyday everyone can see it products everywhere, and where is very less other's company's product can effect Mocrosoft's market share. so the situation caused anti-monolopy to microsoft. but I think it is unfair situation, because microsoft's products are perfect and useful, and other company's products cannot compete with microsoft. And it is not a black market, I think at the same to said anti-monopoly to microsoft we should foucs on other company and give them some support to help them make a good product to compete with microsoft, thur the market will became a competive market.

The Black Market and the Oil Price in China

The Black Market and the Oil Price in China
The Chinese government set a price ceiling of gasoline, but the price which was set by Chinese government is lower than cost price. Because of this situation, the petroleum companies decrease the supply, but the price still at that price, therefore, many car and track cannot get gasoline. Now, there is a black market appeared, some people see that situation, and thought it was a chance to make money. First, they went to a gasoline station to buy much gasoline, than when the station run out of oil, they bring the gasoline that they brought before and sell the gasoline the station or drivers at a much higher price.
The government had to free the price of gasoline; it is the most effective way to solve the problem. Because if the oil companies can sell the oil at a higher price and get more benefit, they will produce more oil, so the people who buy and sell gasoline illegal does not have any benefit, and the situation will be stopped.

Pollution and Airline Code share

Pollution and Airline Code share
As we know, the airplanes make a big air pollutions, there are so many flights in the air and pollute the air. But there is a strange situation, the seats in plane is hard to be taken fully in every flights, and some airlines have the same lines, so there are many planes in the air, and there are not fully being taken by passengers. So the code share can reduce the air pollution, and decrease the cost of each airline, and they can get more benefit and do not need more pollution permits.
For example, I took the flight CA982 from New York to Beijing, at the same time the flight is UA4451, even this the plane was not full, imagine if there are planes to fly this line, there will be more most of Air China and United, and there will be more air pollution.

Market Share in Our Life

Market Share in Our Life
In our daily life, there are many famous brands around us, and in a same field, there are also few famous brands, they have the market share almost equally, because of this situation, I believe the market share offer a variable choice to our life, if there are more pieces of market share. And the variable choice offer many chance to save many, at the same time we can get more goods.
For example, in Marietta there are several pharmacies, if I want to buy a bulb, I will to go to each pharmacy, and try to find the cheapest one. Another reason is that there is a competition between each pharmacy, so the price of goods will be fine and cheap. There are more pharmacies means there are more goods to sell. Because each pharmacy is different, each one has its feature, so they can offer different goods and we can buy more goods than there is less pharmacy.

Grain from Trade and International Trade Competition

Grain from Trade and International Trade Competition
The gain from trade means people can get more benefit than do a job or a produce alone. But, there is a issue between countries, all the countries want to get the most benefit through trade with other countries, in the other side, all the countries afraid more countries are stronger than themselves, and all the countries also want to restrict the trade of other countries. So the big countries always make trade with same countries which are have many sources and need the protection of big countries. For example, China like to trade with African country, China sells many kinds of goods and weapons, and get many sources from those countries. In the United Nations, the trade between China and African Country can let they help each others, like China can get ballot from African countries, and China also can protect the benefit of African countries.

Chinese Style Price Discrimination

Chinese style price discrimination
There is unique price discrimination in China. In many Chinese shopping malls, before you go shopping there, you have to learn how to make discount positively by yourself, because in there shopping malls, the sellers would not tell you the true price of the good and the original price which they said is much higher.
the price you buy the goods is depend on your skill to make discount, if you have a better skill and experience than other’s, you can get the same good at a lower price, so it is a different kind price discrimination.
How to avoid this discrimination? There is most useful way, it’s that you must have your willingness to pay, and you insist the price that you can accept of a good.
For example, in Silk Street which is a famous shopping mall in Beijing, and in the mall you have to make discount to every goods, if not the discrimination are happen on you.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

XM and Sirius settle $19 million radio violation

XM and Sirius satellite radio are the only two competitors in their industry. However, in 2007 they filed for a merger that would create a monopoly for satellite radio. The justice department approved the merger claming that there would be enough competition from conventional radio, mp3 players, and ipods to stop the joint company from skyrocketing prices. On the other hand, the FCC has been more difficult to convince. When they originally wrote the contracts for the wave licenses, they were to be kept separate. The two companies are willing however to work with the government, and obey certain rules such as keeping prices static for three years.

Powerful Externalities of a Giant Natural Monopoly in a Free Market

Today on the abc World News Tonight with Charles Gibson announced that Exxon Oil has announced the largest quarterly profits of any corporation ever - 11.7 billion dollars. Shell Oil followed with 11.5 billion for the quarter. Hearing that news none of us would wonder where that profit came from - we paid for every penny at the pumps. However, as the commentator explained, Exxon made its profit long before the oil was even refined into gasoline. They made it by raising the cost of the crude oil.

Exxon and other oil drilling companies are part of a small competitive monopoly that sets the prices and to a large degree controls the markets of many other goods and manufacturing. The commentary explained that oil production in the Middle East had slowed after the US invasion of Iraq (It is just getting back and increasing now.) The decrease in production by one supplier began the manipulation of the market by the other monopoly participants. By slowing oil production or as the commentary described by conducting repairs on oil drilling or broadcasting concerns that oil production may be curtailed because of the continued aftermath of major storms in the Gulf of Mexico, the consuming countries were willing to pay a premium price on oil to assure their supply.

The oil drilling market is not easily entered. Many oil rich lands are off limits to new and old companies because of governmental and political restrictions (e.g., in Russia and Venezuela), because of conservation concerns (in the coastal waters and in Alaska) and because of natural barriers (e.g., drilling by the North Pole although there is already interest by oil companies in the sea beneath the melting northern icecap). Therefore the monopolist oil companies have been able to set the price and get what they ask.

But there is another side to the story. The news commentary described what happened during the oil crisis in the 1970's when President Carter urged all Americans to conserve energy. For a while Americans bought smaller cars and turned down the heat. But the oil crisis did not last long and soon we all went back to consuming the cheap supply of energy. This time is different. There is no expectation that the oil crisis will end soon. The longer the prices stay high the more lasting the effects. Americans are already driving less, taking more public transportation, working at home for some days per week, buying “green” and seeking products and designs that conserve energy. These changes are not temporary because they are effecting a shift in production and industry. One example is the Toyota factory that had opened in Louisiana and was prepared to make trucks has now retooled to make hybrids. American auto manufacturers have done the same. So that were the energy crisis to end in the next few months, the shift that has taken place would not simply return to the old ways. Economists call this demand destruction, in which changes in the economy creates a shift in consumer behavior that destroys interest in old products. The process is a natural phenomenon in the technology industry in which new devices quickly make old ideas obsolete. With the oil crisis, the destruction of demand has made “going green” the new chic.

Coase Theorem at Work in a College Town

The Coase Theorem states that a free economy will find private solutions to difficult economic conflicts. This article appeared a few years ago but what it describes is happening right now in New Haven, Connecticut where I live. The activity is an example of a creative solution to a complicated problem - without government interventions. The article describes a variation on car-rentals; charges by the hour especially in big cities or near airports and business centers.

What is happening in New Haven, the city where Yale University is, involves the growing problem of traffic congestion and scarce parking places. The university had banned student cars from university lots, especially after new construction took up several parking lots. Students and their parents of course complain. And city businesses miss out because the carless students do not buy big items because they cannot carry them to their dorms. However, the city was not interested in subsidizing student parking even though the university is a big part of the economy. The city also has a shortage of parking spaces and students would be leaving cars unused for long periods of time in parking spaces needed for consumers of city businesses.

A few enterprising students formed a business “Pick-Ride-Drop” nicknamed PaRDEE. The idea is that the business makes a few cars available to students to rent for an hour or more to shop or get to the train station. They are charged by the hour and an extra fee if they do not bring the car back to the same lot where they picked it up. There are drop off places at ten spots around the city, including the train station, the grocery stores and shopping district, the medical center, and several business centers. The students call ahead to reserve a car at a pickup place and then drop it off with the keys in a special pouch for the next driver. The business began with 10 cars and now there is a group of 39. The market has opened to employees of the university and several allied businesses.

The Coases theory is evident in the following. The business would not have worked if the owners had to pay the exorbitant parking and the students would not have purchased the cars if the parking costs had been passed down so Yale designated a number of spots just for the cars in exchange for happier students and parents. The city also agreed to waive the street parking meters for those cars in exchange for more reasonable numbers of student cars. The students have to plan ahead but for very reasonable rates get to have car transportation when needed. The fees go to car repair and gas. As gas prices increased the rates have also climbed but are still acceptable.

The most recent development is the addition of a bicycle fleet operating on the same principle for those who are thinking green. In a recent local paper article one of the owners commented that the shared rides and cars is a practice that is more common in Europe but workable in the American city. The organization is planned as an excludable and rivable product, making a private business.

Slew of Bankruptcies Shock the country

Very few times in our countries history have we seen so many companies file for bankruptcy. This article lists around 10 different well known companies that have filed or are going to file for bankruptcy. One that I found shocking was a retail store called Mervyns. Never heard of it? I do not blame you. However if you ever lived in California you would be quite shocked and upset. Mervyns is the same thing as a JC Pennies...but a little bit nicer. Every Californian is very familiar with this store. In fact when I lived in California my father used to manage a store where we lived. 

The point that I am getting at is that we are now being surrounded by mainstay stores and restaurants that are closing. I wonder what comes next. The economy as a whole is incredible weak and this is only the tip of the iceberg that is to come in the forms of closings. IT started with starbucks and now is slowly moving outward. Although we will know it will be time to move somewhere else is McDonalds or Walmart closes down in your town. 

GM calls reports of salaried jobs cut accurate

Who wants a new car right now? That is what the General Motors Corporation (GM) would like to know. With gas prices at an all time high and a weak economy, many Americans are not headed to the car dealerships like they were a few years ago. The whole industry in the U.S. has fell 10% in the last year, and GM fell below the average at 16%. In addition, their shares hit a 54-year low in July and things are not looking better for the future months. This is leading GM to cut 15% of U.S. and Canadian salaried workers by November 1. Their plan is to reduce white-collar costs by more than 20% to reduce the amount of layoffs needed. GM is not the only company feeling the strain Ford and Chrysler have also announced salaried layoffs. The demand for the market is no longer present in our society now. The cost is greater than the demand therefore cut backs are being made now to save the company in the end. So who wants a new car right now? I think most of us would love to have a new car right now, but who is going to buy one? The person whose price meets demand will buy a car.

Exxon breaks own record for biggest-ever profit

In the heat of summer who is really feeling the burn of high oil prices the oil companies or the consumer? Exxon Mobil Corporation, which is based in Irving, Texas, broke a new record Thursday with the biggest quarterly profit ever made by a U.S. company of $11.68 billion (with a 40% increase in revenue from the last quarter). However, this increase in profit fell short of expectations due in part to the balance of increased oil and natural gas prices, but a decrease in sales volume and higher operating costs. Although, we as consumers can sometimes think that the oil companies are setting ridiculous prices it is all in part to supply and demand. With the lowered supply over the past several months the demand is not being met, so higher prices are bring down the demand. By using a demand curve the oil companies are setting the price that will allow their supply to meet their demand. However, the oil companies aren’t being hurt as much by the 8% decrease in crude oil production as some consumers considering Exxon Mobil holds the record for at least the top six most profitable quarters and largest annual profit for American based companies. Exxon Mobil is not the only one making huge profits right now. A Europe based company Royal Dutch Shell fell just short of Exxon’s Thursday high this quarter. So who is feeling the burn more? It is hard to say, but the increased gas prices are becoming an economic crisis for most Americans.

Flying Without Luggage

As if losing your luggage through the airlines isn't bad enough, how about meeting it when you reach your destination, after you send it separately? Some people are opting out of checking their luggage are are sending it ahead of time. Delta Airlines has announced that they would start charging $50 instead of $25 for just one extra bag. This increase doesn't include the extra cost for bags exceeding the weight or size limit. Although Delta is the only company as of now that has raised their prices, the other companies are expected to follow suit.
FedEx and UPS are the two most promising ways to go in shipping luggage, but the trouble is, how soon do you send it. In choosing this option, it would be necessary to pack well in advance and have your luggage well on its way at least five days before your expected arrival. And all for comparable cost to what you are paying to check the luggage in the first place. The biggest advantage lies in the idea that shipping the luggage gives you the option to use delivery confirmation and insurance on lost luggage. Airlines however, don't guarantee anything lost in route.
So after contacting your hotel to assure they accept early arrival luggage, making sure you haven't packed any "dangerous goods", like aerosol spray, perfume, cologne and nail polish remover, and preparing well in advance, the question that lies is, "Is it worth it?" Would the benefits from shipping your luggage outweigh the extra $25 per extra bag? I say, pack lighter, shoot for one suitcase and a carry-on and you're set.

Prices of Food and Gas Take a Toll in Asia

The core inflation rate, excluding food and energy, accelerated in Indonesia to 8.7 percent in May from 6.3 percent in December. During the same period, the core rates rose in May in the Philippines and Singapore to 6.2 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively, from 2.6 percent and 3.5 percent.

While oil prices were rising, most others products prices were rising. Oil is most important public products in the world because most factory and transportations using oil. Therefore, the rising of oil prices strongly impact to rising of other products prices. Some countries reduce tax of oil to block inflation. However, that was not a solution. They couldn't block inflation. Now, the oil prices are dropping. Then we can suppose that other products prices will be dropped.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trouble before the Olympics

The Chinese government has created a type of monopoly on the internet. They have control over the internet in china and control what people are allowed to see on it. This is becoming a major controversy with the Olympics edging closer because they are limiting what sites the media will be able to access. Normally, the Chinese government regulates what sites their citizens are able to access, however they promised that they would life the restrictions for the media during the Olympics. Overall the internet is not a monopoly because more than one company has access to the internet. In away I believe the Chinese government creates the internet an artificially scarce good as well by controlling who uses it and the websites. I will leave this up for discussion, so please tell me what do you believe china is doing and is it right or not?

Chrysler Needs Back Up

Is it any surprise that Chrysler or any car manufactuer is struggling in times like this? Chrysler has tried to take promotional avenues that would increase the cars being purchased but they have not been successful. They have decided, instead of calling it quits they are going to pair up with foriegn auto producers. Chrysler claims this will help their never ending drop in sales. There has been some descussion that not only selling cars over seas but making them too will be the primary focus especially for the jeep like vehicles. We all know now that anything the is a SUV or Truck is no longer wanted due to the increases in fuel prices, so instead of completley shutting off the making of these vehicles they are going to seel the ones they can in the U.S. over seas. Also, Chrysler is looking for ways to spend less money in the car making process. They are strongly leaning on having the building of the cars be done over seas for the cheaper labor costs. Chrysler is also trying to cut cost by offering early retirement packages and other early benefits. Chrysler is trying to stay in business because there top selling vehicles are Trucks and SUV's so they will do what is necessary to stay competitve in that Market.

Squid and Oil Face a Common Enemy

The article on overfishing and the potential extinction of a valuable resource reminds me of the current difficulty with oil production and the destruction of the environment. There is little to no incentive to limit oil drilling and control of oil fields. However there is a monetary control placed on oil production when the oil cartels and OPEC understand that by limiting the availablilty of oil by drilling less the price of oil goes up. Countries and even individual consumers have been forced to pay the higher price because of the dependency on oil as a source of energy and a raw material for industry.

The same control is not true for the fishing industry. As the cost of fish and squid increase, consumers can find ready substitutes - steak or vegetarian meals. Fish is rarely an indispensable commodity for most consumers of the world. Oil on the other hand is not replaceable - at least not yet and not until there is a viable and reliable cheaper energy source and the technology to use it.

Solar power and wind power are two potentially viable sources that future technology may bring into reality. Both are public goods - that is nonexcludable and nonrival in their specific form although a levied cost may make them artificially scarce goods, limiting access to those willing to pay.

For now oil is the primary source of energy for transportation and much of industry. As the demand continues, the "overfishing " of the fossil fuels as well as the associated pollution will continue to threaten the environment and political stability of the world.

One of the hot issues in the upcoming election is the management of the high cost of oil (driven up by both the manipulation of supply by the oil producers and by the surge in demand by developing nations like China and India which have greatly increased their oil consumption). Two different solutions have been proposed. One by McCain is to relax the government regulation that prohibits drilling in protected lands and coastal areas of the United States. The Democratic proposal is to reduce the demand for oil through government regulation that forces auto manufactures to increase the engine efficiency of cars and and increase the development of hybrid and electric cars. Notably in the free market economy, consumers themselves have an impact on the crisis by buying smaller cars, using public transportation, conserving energy in the heating and cooling of their homes, and driving less. Although government regulation is necessary, the consumer behavior is also an important element in decreasing over use and unacceptable levels of environmental impact.

Tobacco regulation bill

A billed passed on capital hill today that places sharper restrictions on access tobacco and marketing and advertising of companies. It is in hope that the younger generations will not be persuaded to smoke making then live longer and have less of a risk for heart disease and lung cancer. The bill would allow the FDA, Food and Drug Administration, to watch labelling of cigarettes and recall some that are seen as unreasonably harmful. As you know in our youth the negative externalities of smoking becomes cancer which makes generations not last as long and the economy in turn suffers from a smaller market. Although White House administration recommends a presidential veto , we will just have to wait and see what happens in the weeks to come and if the bill will be good or bad for the economy.

Rise in Gas Price, A Surprise?

On Wed, 30 a rise in sweet crude reached a $4.58 increase. This was not expected rise in fact experts believe that prices would continue to fall because hurricane Dolly did not effect production as much as expected. The reason behind the rise was do to a decrease in supply. For approximately prices for crude had slowing been decreasing allowing the national average for regular to drop below $4.00 a gallon. A problem with dropping gas prices is that when people see $3.65 a gal they become happy and start driving more, which in turn increases the demand, which again increases the price of gas. Gas is an example of an excludable product. People have to pay for the product, no matter what the price. Also when people start to use more of the product there isn’t the same amount for others to use, which in this case makes the price rise.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Externalities in Rubber Ducks

This article describes new legislation to control hazardous materials in children's toys. Lead and phthalates (the latter a chemical to make rubber and plastic more pliable) are chemicals related to negative health effects especially in young children. The recent problems with the contamination in imported toys alerted Congress about the need for higher standards and more oversight in the regulation of certain private goods.

The chemical contamination in manufacturing represents an externality. The question of whether it can be observed directly or not is still debated. Although the amount of lead and phthalates can be measured, the amount of harm they impose on the consumer is what is debated. Those in favor of regulation site studies that show exposure to these chemicals produces negative health effects in animal. The manufacturers and their lobby argue that the scientific evidence is inconclusive. (A National Public Radio program compared the current debate over these chemicals with the earlier one that focused on saccharine as a carcinogen.). Therefore regulation of this chemical will need to focus on the original action (page 456 in Chapter 19) rather than on the outcome. That is, what is being regulated is the presence of the chemical itself and not the health problems which remain uncertain and hard to measure.

There would be little incentive for manufacturers to change their use of this chemical and it would not be possible to depend on the market to regulate it since consumers have no way of telling from looking at the product whether it is contaminated or not. Therefore governmentregulation is required to control the negative externality of the rubber duck and all toys.

The Optimal Polution in a Command Economy

attempt to clear the air for the athletes) faces in trying to undo in a few months what has This article discusses China's attempt to deal with air pollution in time for the Olympic games that will begin in early August. The article (and others that have been following Beijingidentifies the overwhelming difficulty that Beijingbuilt up over decades of poor regulation of emissions as well as recent surge in economic growth and industry.

Part of the Chinese difficulty comes from a command market economy in which the public serves the wishes of the government and has no power to force regulation of negative externalities on their own behalf. Private enterprise is similarly limited and so the regulation that comes from a market economy is also missing.

As the article points out, the same factors that got China into the pollution bind are those being used to try an emergency fix. The government ordered that factories be dissembled and moved in their entirety to the farmland far from the city. The cost was considerable both in lost production, manpower, and resources. However, the benefit to the country in terms of world perception and success in hosting the Olympics was viewed by the central government to outweigh the cost. As the article points out, the efforts may be too little too late to effectively control air quality.

The effect of the pollution in China, the level of which bypassed that considered optimal in the West, now will have global effects through the reactions of individual athletes. The negative externalities have increased dramatically because of the unique circumstances of the Olympic games. But they are not easily eliminated or controlled. The Chinese government has viewed pollution as an unavoidable consequence of economic growth and ignored pollution as a side effect. Now the interest has changed and decreasing pollution is an ultimate goal. In a command economy the optimal pollution is whatever the government decides at whatever cost it takes.

Markets Can Make Fisheries Sustainable

This article discusses government regulatory policy to combat over-fishing. The author of the article focuses on the effectiveness of IQF's (Individual Transferable Quotas) in the fishing industry. The system is similar to tradable permits in the control of pollution. The government issues IQF's to fishermen in an attempt to counteract overuse of popular fishing areas in the ocean ( a common resource). The IQF's establish well-defined property rights for fishermen. The author comments on the higher effectiveness of the IQF system in contrast to other methods of government control on the fishing industry. Governments can limit the fishing season or net sizes, but both of these options lead to over-capitalization. Costs for the fishermen increase but the pressure on fish stocks in not relieved. The IQF's on the other hand lead the market to more efficiency because the quotas are tradable, they lead to increased safety through reduced incentives to go out in inclement weather, and they eliminate the incentive for the government to shorten the season, leading to an improvement in the quality supplied. New Zealand uses an IQF system to regulate nearly its entire fishing industry. In the United States, IQF's have improved the over-fishing of Alaskan halibut and Virginian striped-bass. This article provides a real-world example of how to efficiently use and maintain a common resource as discussed in Chapter 20.  

Some comic relief as the course draws to an end

I found this while searching for some serious issues to post for this section of the course. I got a kick out of it. If you play the clip, it will display more clips to view with similar sentiments. I found it on an environmental economics blog,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Apple’s 3rd Quarter profit jumps 31%

In the 3rd quarter, Macintosh and iPod helped boost Apple Inc.’s scrawny earnings 31%, beating Wall Street’s expectations Monday. Apple earned $1.19 per share, or $1.07 billion , 11 cents ahead of analysts’ view for $7.31 billion. Apple sold more Macs than ever before, 2.5 million, up to 41% from a year ago. Apple also said iPod sales jumped 12%, Peter Oppenheimer, chief financial officer said, “The quarter was a home run” In an interview. Apple’s share’s sank $18.04, or 10.8%, to $148.25 in after-hour trading, after gaining $1.39 to close at $166.29.
Apple Inc’s conservative outlook tends to usually make them shoot low in their predictions for 4th quarter earnings. Apple only predicts a profit of $1 per share on $7.8 billion in sales, well short of Wall Street expectations. Through the plagues of expectations in the stock market Apple has been one of the strongest competitors, while still making profit when the economy is down. In the future, investors predict that Apple’s gross margin will drop. In response to this accusation, Apple Inc. noted that margin was actually better than expected, helped by better commodity prices and stronger sales of higher margin products. Oppeheimer forecasts even lower margins in the 4th quarter, tied in part to the launch of the undisclosed new products.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

XM-Sirius satellite radio gets the green light to merge from the FCC

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. bought rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. for $3.3 billion. This means that subscribers will be able to have access to both stations, it was also said to create huge cost savings for the industry. FCC Chairman Kevin Marin told the Associated Press, “Consumers will enjoy a variety of programming at reduced prices and more diversified programming choices.” The two rivals kept each other on their toes, the one fear that Democratic Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has is that they will turn into a monopoly. Republican commissioner Taylor Tate insisted that the companies settle charges that they violated FCC rules before she would approve of the deal. Both companies agreed this week to pay $19.7 million to the U.S. Treasury for violations related to radio receivers and ground-based signal repeaters. The merging companies said that their merging would create hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings and lead to greater choice in programming for subscribers and flexible pricing options. The FCC approval faced a steeper climb because the companies were prohibited from combining under terms of their licenses. The agency struggled to come up with a way to show that allowing a satellite radio monopoly was in the public interest. Sirius and XM also have promised to include a limited “a la carte” offering that would be available within three months of the close of the deal and allow listeners to pay only for the channels they want to receive.

FDIC takes 2 more banks and closes 28 branches

On Friday, July 25 2008 28 branches of the 1st National Bank of Nevada and First Heritage Bank, operating in Nevada, Arizona and California, were closed by federal regulators. The FDIC said the takeover of the failed banks was the least costly resolution and all depositors will switch to Mutual of Omaha with “the full amount of their deposits.” As of June 30th, the banks closed by the FDIC had total assets of $3.6 billion. Most of the assets are in 1st National while First Heritage accounts for $254 million. In Nevada, 1st National has 10 branches and employs about 350 people. Bill Uffelman of the Nevada Bankers Association said Friday the FDIC action “is a reflection of the times for the banks. It’s a poor economy.” Uffelman cautioned against the sort of consumer concern that prompted customers to wait in line for hours to withdraw funds after IndyMac Bank branches were seized by federal regulators. All FDIC-insured bank deposits are guaranteed by the FDIC up to $100,000, Uffelman noted. So all the customers of the bank that have up to $100,000 are safe, but those that have more than $100,000 may have some trouble taking hold of their cash.

Price drop of crude oil finally hits home

Gas stations customers finally have a reason to be relieved, because the dropping price of crude oil has finally reached gas stations nation-wide. The national average for a gallon of regular gas has pulled back to just above $4 a gallon. It has been stated that prices at the pump are poised to dip even further, and could cost as much as 25 cents less by Labor Day. AAA spokesman Geoff Sundstorm said, “People say typically prices shoot up like a rocket, fall like a feather. But this time… looks like it’s different,” “The retail sector is interested in bringing these prices down as fast as they can to stimulate business in their convenience.” The price of crude oil fell $2.23 and settled at $123.26 a barrel, and earlier the contract dropped even further to as low as $122.50.

Amazon remains resilient as Economy weakens and gas prises rise

The high gas prices and withering economy don’t seem to be bothering Inc. The internet retailer reported Second quarter earnings that more than doubled and easily topped analysts’ expectations. The company’s shares jumped $6.07, or 8%, at $76.58 in after-hours trading, after finishing regular trading up $2.57, or 3.8%, at $70.54. Inc.’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos , suspects that increased fuel prices will actually give Amazon a “relative advantage” over other retailers. Bezos says that the increasing price of gasoline is making customers rethink the idea of going to the mall or outlet, so they decide to shop online. Amazon’s free shipping offers and “Amazon Prime” are even more valuable now to customers because of the current circumstances.
At the end of the quarter, June 30th, Amazon earned $150 million, and in the same quarter last year earned $78 million. The company’s revenue took a leap and climbed 41% to $4.08 billion, including a 35% leap in North America. The company’s net cost climbed to $128 million from $75 million last year.
The reasonably confident internet retailer has increased its sale forecast for the rest of the year to a range of $19.35 billion to $20.10 billion. Inc. cracks down on abusive applications Inc. promises to intensify its efforts to wee out programs that violate its rules for protecting users’ privacy. More than 30,000 applications have been designed to run on Facebook since the company opened its site to outside developers 14 months ago. Millions of Facebook users have taken the most successful applications with open arms, helping the applications turn into hot commodities. Inc, estimates that the makers of its top applications have raised over $200 million form venturing capitalists.
As the number of applications has over flown Facebook, its users have increased form 24 million in May 2007 to around 90 million today. This rapid growth has narrowed’s lead in the internet’s social network niche and helped privately held Facebook secure since a $240 million investment form Microsoft Corp.
Having so many outside applications on the side has caused some stress for Facebook, too. Some applications have included security holes that gave web surfers unauthorized peeks at the personal profiles of Facebook users. “Facebook has already removed about 1,000 abusive applications since it opened its Web site and plans to move even more aggressive as it establishes clearer ground rules for operating on its site” said Benjamin Ling, Facebook’s director of platform program management.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fun at the Pump?!

Since 2006, the number of televisions atop gas pumps has skyrocketed. Now, 3 private held companies have placed more than 20,000 screens at thousands of gas stations from the Massachusetts Pike to southern California. Roy Reeves, Vice President of sales and marketing for PumpTop TV, says, “We try to bring some fun to the pump.”
Not only are the televisions relieving some stress, but they are bringing in some added revenue for gas station retailers, which have seen a shrink in retail due to an increase in fuel load costs and credit card fees.
It has been reported by Gas Station TV, which tracked its retailers’ sales, saying that stores with the TVs sell 75% more car washes and 69% more snacks if they are advertised. The companies that advertise on the televisions at each gas station, pay “rent” in exchange for placing the flat screens above the pump.
Once a customer starts the pump, the TV comes on. You can’t change the channel or volume, so the customer usually tunes in. It also appears that customers are more willing to buy the products that are advertised and also remember what was advertised. According to a Gas station TV and Nielson Media Research Study, 70% of the people who watched the ads remembered the product advertised, and 89% of customers were willing to buy the product after seeing the ad atop the gas pump.
“One of the pit falls for convenience store owners is that people pay at the pump,” says Richard Divine, head of the marketing department of Central Michigan University. “People don’t want to go inside anymore. But at the gas pump you have a captive audience.”
The main purpose of these TVs atop gas pumps doesn’t seem to be advertisements, but to distract the customer from the $4.22 per gallon of gasoline we are paying for.