Posted tagged ‘Struggling Economy’

TIME Magazine in February?

January 30, 2009

Well, I may finally get my shot at fame and fortune! Well, more than likely it will be neither but still this could be a pretty cool event in my life.

I took a little time away from the Caylee/Casey Anthony case (as well as all the other topics that I cover in my spare time) to be interviewed a few months back by a reporter at TIME Magazine.

Well, it turns out the article is going to be published (fingers crossed) for the February 9 issue! Not 100% sure yet if it will be in print or just online but either way, I’m looking forward to it.

Without ruining the story, it’s about families who have come together to find ways to survive the downturn of the economy. As most of you know, my wife and our two children moved in with my in laws in November, 2006. We’ve lived together since then and it has been very beneficial to us all. Bills and rent are paid and the in laws get to see their grand kids every day. Nothing wrong with that.

We have a photo shoot scheduled for 9 a.m. (PT) tomorrow so that should be exciting. I’ll have to give an update when I find out confirmation on the issue date. I’ve been told February 9, but we’ll see…

Anyways…Hope you all have a great night! And make sure to check out TIME when our inclusion appears 🙂

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KB Toys Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

December 12, 2008

KB Toys has filed for bankruptcy protection and plans to close its 277 mall-based stores and 114 outlets. In its Chapter 11 filings, the chain blamed “sudden and sharp decline in consumer sales due to macro-economic concerns.”

From the Associated Press:

In another sign of the grim holiday season, KB Toys filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in four years on Thursday and plans to begin going-out-of business sales at its stores immediately.

The 86-year-old company said in a filing that its debt is “directly attributable to a sudden and sharp decline in consumer sales” because of the poor economy.

That a toy retailer filed for bankruptcy just before Christmas shows how bleak things have become, since such stores make up to half of their sales during the holidays. But analysts expect toy sales this holiday season to be flat or down slightly from last year’s total of $10.4 billion, according to market research firm NPD Group, because consumers are cutting back amid the recession.

In response, toy retailers, including KB Toys, amped up their discounts.

KB Toys had aggressively cut prices to entice cash-strapped shoppers, offering hundreds of toys for $10 or less. It also expanded its value program, which offers deals on new items each week, and offered “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” promotions.

But the deals weren’t enough. In the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, KB Toys said that between Oct. 5 and Dec. 8 sales in stores open at least one year, a key retail metric known as same-store sales, fell nearly 20 percent.

The company said it considered its alternatives and decided the most viable way to cover its debt was to begin liquidating its stores via immediate going-out-of-business sales. KB Toys also plans to sell its wholesale distribution business, according to the filing.

Sony Eliminates 8,000 Jobs

December 9, 2008

Sony has announced that the company will eliminate 8,000 jobs and rein in planned investment as it reacts to the global economic slowdown.

From CRN:

Sony said Tuesday it would cut 8,000 jobs in reaction to sluggish sales, particularly of its televisions and digital cameras. That number comprises regular workers and represents 4 percent of Sony’s entire workforce. Sony also said it plans to reduce head count in its seasonal and temporary workforces. The move is aimed at slashing $1.1 billion in operational and investment costs. Sony’s investment in the electronics business will decrease by approximately 30 percent in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010. That includes plans to cut investment expenditures this fiscal year by outsourcing part of the company’s proposed increase in the manufacturing of CMOS image sensors for use in mobile phones to third parties.

According to Sony, certain short-term measures have already been taken, including adjusting production, lowering inventory levels and reducing operational expenses. But the appreciation of the yen means that the Japanese manufacturer will need to adjust product pricing, downsize and realign domestic and overseas manufacturing sites, reallocate its workforce and reduce head count.

Sony’s moves will have global impact. For example, the company is postponing plans to invest in production expansion at the Nitra plant in Slovakia, which assembles LCD televisions for the European market. Further, the manufacturer plans to close two overseas manufacturing sites, including the Sony Dax Technology Center in France, which manufactures tape and other recording media. Overall, the total number of manufacturing sites will be reduced by roughly 10 percent, from the current total of 57, by March 31, 2010.

From the New York Times:

Sony, which had already announced scattered cost-savings measures, blamed the rapid deterioration in the global economic outlook and the strength of the Japanese currency for the cuts.

“These initiatives are in response to the sudden and rapid changes in the global economic environment,” Sony, which has 160,000 employees, said in a statement. Sony aims save more than 100 billion yen, or $1.1 billion, a year through the measures, which also include shutting several plants.

About 10 percent of the company’s 57 plants will be shut, including 2 overseas sites, and plans to expand a site in Slovakia where LCD televisions for the European market are assembled have been delayed. The statement did specify which plants will be closed.

Sony will also trim spending in semiconductors and will outsource a part of the production it had planned for image sensors for cellphones.

“Based on such measures, Sony is planning to reduce investment in the electronics business by approximately 30 percent” in the fiscal year ending March 2010, the company said.

The announcements highlight the extent of the pain many Asian exporters — especially in Japan — are facing as the global financial crisis deepens. Like other Japanese manufacturers, Sony has suffered from slowing consumer demand, aggravated by the yen’s rally against the dollar and the euro in recent months, which makes Japanese goods more expensive for consumers in the United States and Europe.

Male Suicide Becomes a Growing Concern During Tough Economic Times

December 4, 2008

I thought that this was a very powerful story about the increase researchers are seeing in male suicide in recent years. There are some interesting statistics and personal stories told by those who have survived suicide attempts. We are all having a difficult time with the state of our country and the economy right now but its obvious that many are having a harder time than others.

From Men’s Health:

John Kevin Hines had been pacing on the Golden Gate Bridge for 40 minutes in anguish, crying. If one person asks me what’s wrong, I won’t go through with this, he thought, over and over.

Eventually, a woman wearing giant sunglasses approached him. “Would you take my picture?” she asked. The 19-year-old accepted the camera from her and clicked it five times. Then he snapped. The moment Hines released his hold on the 4-foot-high railing, he regained his grip on reality.

During the 4 seconds between jump and splashdown, he could think clearly. All the problems that had made him want to die moments earlier? Those seemed less overwhelming than a 220-foot plunge into San Francisco Bay. Oh, my God, I don’t want to die, he thought. What have I done? God, please, save me. It’s a prayer seldom answered. Since the bridge opened in 1937, someone has jumped from it every 2 weeks on average. Out of roughly 2,000 attempts, only 28 “failed.”

The psychologist Edwin S. Shneidman, Ph.D., a pioneer in suicide research, once said that it’s a bad idea to kill yourself when you’re feeling suicidal. That’s no joke: You’re not solving problems well. You’re unable to step outside your troubled mind. And those things make you a very, very dangerous man. Realization of the risk comes too late for many, from bottom-rung stragglers to men whose lives and achievements seem worthy of celebration, not self-termination.

Their final act perplexes family and friends. It saddens them, sickens them, and even angers them. And in the end, it worries the rest of us, too. Because any of us could be walking that bridge one day. The numbers are so gut-churning, it’s like looking over a bridge railing. Nearly 26,000 men took their own lives in 2005. That’s nearly four times the number of women who did the same thing, even though three times more women than men attempt suicide. (For every completed suicide by a man or woman, 25 attempts fail.)

Whereas a woman might swallow pills halfheartedly, a man is four times more likely to complete the act, mostly because men tend to use guns — and their aim is true. As grim as that sounds, it gets worse. Mark S. Kaplan, Dr.P.H., who researches suicide at Oregon’s Portland State University, believes the suicide death toll may be up to 25 percent higher than officially recorded. Many single-car accidents seem mysterious. When an overdose occurs and toxicology results are ambiguous, as in the case of Heath Ledger, was it a tragic accident or an exit strategy? Some medical examiners will certify a death as suicide only if the victim leaves a note, and yet only about 20 percent of people who kill themselves do so. Sometimes insurance companies pay the survivors less, or nothing at all, in cases of suicide. The denial of friends and family is a factor, too: It’s less painful to think a loved one didn’t die by his or her own hand.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System, which tracks the circumstances surrounding violent deaths (including suicides), might be able to sort all this out — if it were funded in more than 17 states.

AT&T to Eliminate 12,000 Jobs

December 4, 2008

Citing the recession, a need to streamline its operation and the changing dynamics of the telecom industry, AT&T has announced that it would eliminate 4% of its work force — about 12,000 positions — by the end of 2009. The company, which also said it expected to take a $600 million charge in the fourth quarter because of severance-related issues, had cut 4,600 jobs earlier in the year.

From CNET:

The company cited economic pressures and a changing business mix as the reasons behind the cuts.

AT&T also said it plans to reduce its 2009 capital expenditures from 2008 levels. The company said it would issue more specific financial guidance in January, when it announces its fourth-quarter results.

It did say, however, that as a result of the layoffs, it would take a charge of approximately $600 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 to pay severance to affected employees.

The cuts will begin in December and continue throughout 2009, AT&T said in a release.

The company said it is continuing to add positions in wireless, video, and broadband units to meet customer demand.

Economy Is Shrinking and Home Prices Continue to Drop

November 25, 2008

The economy shrank more than expected in the third quarter and home prices fell to levels not seen since early 2004 as the government announced new plans to provide $800 billion to boost consumer spending and home buying. Things keep looking bleaker and bleaker each day for the US economy. When will we hit rock bottom?

From the Associated Press:

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said key markets for consumer debt such as credit cards, auto and student loans essentially came to a halt in October, and that the new programs are aimed to get lending back to more normal levels.

Meanwhile, data released Tuesday provided further proof the country is almost certainly in the throes of a painful recession.

The Commerce Department’s updated reading on the economy’s performance showed gross domestic product shrank at a 0.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, weaker than the 0.3 percent rate of decline first estimated a month ago, and the worst showing since the third quarter of 2001.

GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced within the U.S. and is considered the best barometer of the country’s economic fitness.

Meanwhile, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller national home price index released Tuesday tumbled a record 16.6 percent during the quarter from the same period a year ago. Prices are at levels not seen since the first quarter of 2004.

In an effort to increase the availability of home loans to borrowers, the Federal Reserve said it will purchase up to $100 billion in direct obligations from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the Federal Home Loan Banks. The Fed also will purchase another $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities, pools of mortgages that are bundled together and sold to investors.

The $600 billion effort on mortgages came as the Fed also unveiled a new program to help unfreeze the market that backs consumer debt such as credit cards, auto and student loans.

Circuit City Files for Bankruptcy

November 10, 2008

It had to happen eventually in this terribly struggling economy. Circuit City, the #2 electronics seller after Best Buy, has filed for bankruptcy protection this morning, hoping the move will allow it to stock its shelves in time for the crucial holiday shopping season.

From the Associated Press:

It filed under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, which will allow it to hold off creditors and continue operations while it develops a reorganization plan.

The Richmond, Va.-based company has been struggling as nervous consumers spend less and credit has become tighter, and the retail industry overall is facing what’s expected to be the weakest holiday season in decades.

Circuit City also said it would cut 700 more jobs, after announcing a week ago that it would close 20 percent of its stores and lay off thousands of workers.

“This isn’t a surprise,” JPMorgan analyst Christopher Horvers said, adding that the reorganization could help the company get out of leases for certain bad store locations.

Circuit City, which has had only one profitable quarter in the past year, has faced significant declines in traffic and heightened competition from rival Best Buy Co. and others. It said it decided to file for bankruptcy protection because it was facing pressure from vendors who threatened to withhold products during the holiday season.

“At the end of the day I think it’s really about an inventory position,” Horvers said. “If they can get inventory into the stores, I can think they’ll remain competitive.”

The company’s biggest creditors are its vendors: Hewlett-Packard has a $118.8 million claim followed by Samsung ($115.9 million), Sony ($60 million), Zenith ($41.2 million), Toshiba ($17.9 million) and others. Smaller creditors include GPS navigation system maker Garmin, Nikon, Lenovo, Eastman Kodak and Mitsubishi.