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Construction of Portland’s newest commuter rail will cost more than $13 per ride

December 31, 2008 --

By Dr. Eric Fruits

The Oregonian recenty reported that Portland’s newest commuter rail project, known as WES, will be about $34 million (25 percent) over budget.

The latest estimates put construction costs at $166 million.

The newspaper also reports that the rail project is designed to carry 4,000 passengers a day.

Assuming a 30 year life for the project, a 7% discount rate, and 250 days a year of operation, construction costs alone will be $13.38 per passenger.  Add in operating costs, and the costs of mass transit will likely exceed the costs of driving by 50 percent or more.

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How local businesses fared during the holidays

December 30, 2008 --

By Guest Opinion,

A PERSONAL OBSERVATION: Three different local restaurants described their holiday losses as each totaling over $200,000 when including both the recession and the winter storm.  Owners complained of media sensationalism over winter storm warnings as unnecessarily driving away customers.  For instance, the pre-Christmas week had only one major storm day, yet it was common for an entire weeks of Christmas parties were cancelled.   One mall had five out seven of their restaurants closed during a day in which the roads were clear and no snow was falling.  The snow levels predicted that day never occurred.

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Bank Regulators Sending Mixed Messages

December 29, 2008 --

BY Bill Conerly, Businomics, Conerly Consulting,

The newspapers report that the chief banking regulators are urging banks to lend money.  But the front-line bank examiners, the men and women who work face to face with actual bankers, are giving different orders.  They are telling banks to build up capital and liquidity, which can only be done by SLOWING lending.

The Wall Street Journal reports the phenomenon with this quote:
“It’s so incongruous when the four regulators publish a joint press release imploring banks to lend and saying they should do their duty under their charter, when at the same time the regulatory field forces are bludgeoning community banks to death,” said Camden Fine, chief executive of the Independent Community Bankers of America.”

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Weekly Current Events Biz Quiz 12/16

December 26, 2008 --

1. Which company this week announced “best ever” sales for their holiday season?
B) Anheuser-Busch
C) Blockbuster video
D) Dollar Video

2. Who won this year’s USA Today’s poll for the most admire man?
A) Michael Phelps
B) Barack Obama
C) Pope Benedict
D) Billy Graham

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Fast Fact — Consumer spending up, employment down

December 25, 2008 --

Good News:  The forecasted drop in consumer spending was less than anticipated due to the drop in gas prices. (US Commerce Department)

Bad News: Unemployment claims at a 26 year high.

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Oregon is in top 12 worst performing real estate markets

December 24, 2008 --

Loan Performance House Price Index State Rankings by First American CoreLogic:

1. California      -28.25%
2. Nevada          -25.43%
3. Arizona         -20.06%
4. Florida          -17.84%
5. Rhode Isld    -16.12%
6. Wyoming      -13.46%
7. Hawaii          -13.12%
8. Minnesota    -10.51%
9. Washington  -9.52%
10.Illinois         -8.40%
11.N. Hampshire -8.13%
12.Oregon         -8.02

Source: First American CoreLogic, LoanPerformance HPI, Single-Family Detached as of October 2008

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Sunday auto sales ban would hurt small business

December 23, 2008 --

José Pinomesa, President
Oregon Independent Auto Dealers Association

This is exactly what the OADA-Oregon Auto Dealers Association would like to propose for the 2009 legislative year.  This has been proposed by them on behalf of new car dealers in order to reduce the cost of overhead in these slow economic times where auto sales have fallen dramatically.

The OIADA-Oregon Independent Auto Dealers Association has not been as happy with the news media since they report it as “All Dealers” are in favor of this when it cannot be farther from the truth.  The OIADA has primarily used car dealers as members.  It can be said that most new cars today are sold from Monday through Friday and used cars are still sold seven days a week.  Since used cars cost far less they are purchased by those that have less money and those that have to work their forty plus hours per week.  With both spouses having to sign on the dotted line for financing the only real time they have is weekends.  Since Saturdays is a very busy day to catch up from the work week then Sundays make a perfect day to purchase a vehicle before the work week begins again.

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Good Oil Forecast, Bad Oil Forecast

December 22, 2008 --

By Bill Conerly, Businomics, Conerly Consulting

Here’s the good oil forecast:  back in the fall of 2005, I predicted oil prices going back down to $35.

Here’s the bad forecast: I said it would happen by the end of 2006.

Right price target, wrong time span.  So what went wrong?

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Weekly Current Events Biz Quiz 12/19

December 19, 2008 --

1. Which NW based company beat analysts expectations with a 9% earnings boost?
A) Starbucks
B) Jeld-Wen
C) Nike
D) Reasor’s foods

2. Which Las Vegas Casino sold for a cheap $775 Million this week?
A) The Mirage
B) The Venetian
C) The Flamingo
D) Treasure Island

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Report: Small Business Owner Optimism Lowest in Five Years

December 18, 2008 --

Wells Fargo –According to the recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index surveyed in November, small business owners’ optimism fell to its lowest level since the survey’s inception in 2003. The score now stands at 10, a 35-point drop since last quarter. The Index has been declining since mid-2007.

“The Index hit a record low last month, which appears to be the result of a sharp decline in consumer and business spending,” said Dr. Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo. “Despite the significant decrease in overall optimism, four of every five small business owners said they did not perceive credit as difficult to obtain. It appears that the Fed’s injections of capital and liquidity in the banking system may be having some effect on maintaining credit flow.”

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