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Two corprate giants to blitz malls this season

September 30, 2010 --

Shopping Wars Intensify for Holiday Season
By Oregon Small Business Association,

Intensifying the upcoming holiday shopping season is the recent slide in back-to-school sales  and the challenge of a tough economic climate.   As a result, more retailers are starting to aggressively ramp up their efforts earlier to expand their image on the retail scene.   The new battleground is the shopping mall as two giant firms are buying hundreds of spaces for a seasonal campaign.

Costco Wholesale Corp. recently announced that they are taking steps to add their stores to shopping malls, offering a “mini-mall” option to shoppers. The reversal of Costco’s traditional approach, which has been to expand to “off-mall sites” comes at a time when a number of malls are struggling due to the recession and losing their anchor stores, their largest tenants. With malls looking for alternatives, Costco is aggressively pursuing an expansion into spaces once occupied my department stores. With an average store sales of more than $100 million a year, Costco has the potential to help attract new shoppers to traditional malls. One challenge for Costco may be the lack of space, as older and new stores typically range from 143,000 to 205,000 square feet.

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Oregon CPI Drops – Yet Minimum Wage Rises?

September 29, 2010 --

Minimum wage will increase in 2011 despite overall decrease in state CPI
By  J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon industries,

Oregon employers will find themselves disadvantaged once again in 2011 by Oregon’s minimum wage law that increases the state minimum wage based on increases in the state Consumer Price Index (CPI). Oregon’s CPI is actually lower than 2008 levels – yet Oregon employers will face a .10 cent/hour hike in the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour.

How is this happening?

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State Treasurer: Stop new bonds, debt

September 28, 2010 --

Treasurer Wheeler says General Fund debt capacity reduced as a result of recession, urges caution
— Oregon’s strong credit rating has been maintained because of fiscal discipline, Treasurer says

SALEM – The global recession is hurting the state’s General Fund debt capacity, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler has recommended a temporary halt to future General Fund-backed public borrowing until the financial situation improves. In a special meeting Thursday of the State Debt Policy Advisory Commission, the five-member panel reviewed the latest figures related to General Fund-backed debt and unanimously endorsed the Treasurer’s recommendation.

In addition, the commission also agreed to ask the Department of Administrative Services to reconsider the timing of certain new bond-financed projects that have already been authorized but for which bonds have not yet been sold.

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One of the state’s highest paid workers behind $107M flap

September 27, 2010 --

$107M flap caused by one of the state’s highest paid
By Oregon Tax News,

State radio network is 22% over budget

Plans to build a statewide emergency radio network are running late and $107 million over budget, according to internal state audits and reports. The documents indicate that mismanagement, missed deadlines and hidden costs have pushed up the price tag to $592 million well beyond the $485 million that state officials were citing only a few months ago, The Oregonian reported Wednesday.

Director in charge of project was one of state’s highest paid employees received a 23% raise in 2007

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Largest class action suit before Supreme Court

September 26, 2010 --

U.S. Chamber Urges Supreme Court to Review Largest Employment Class Action in History
Unless the High Court Steps In, the West Coast will Become Haven for Bet-the-Business Class Actions, Chamber Argues
By US Chamber of Commerce,

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit’s erroneous decision to certify the largest employment class action in history. The case is Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes.

“This is the most important class action case facing the Court in over a decade,” said Robin Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the Chamber’s public policy law firm. “The Ninth Circuit radically lowered the standards for certifying blockbuster class actions. Unless the Court steps in to undo the mess created by the Ninth Circuit, the West Coast will become a haven for bet-the-business class actions.”

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Oregon job forecast

September 25, 2010 --

Amy Vander Vliet
By Oregon Employment Department

The national economic slowdown has impacted Oregon. While the recovery plods on, it is turning out to be one of the slowest on record according to the latest quarterly forecast (September 2010) from the state Office of Economic Analysis (OEA). The second quarter marked the second consecutive quarter of job growth in the state, but at an anemic pace of just 0.5 percent – or less, if one discounts the temporary hiring of Census workers last spring.

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FCC speaks on rescuing private media

September 24, 2010 --

NW law firm FCC Commissioner Baker Suggests No Government Support for Media, But Possible Relaxation of Broadcast Ownership Rules
By David Oxenford
Davis, Wright, Tremaine LLP

FCC Commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker recently delivered a speech in Washington, DC, where she addressed calls for the government to take action to assist the traditional media deal with the economic issues brought about by the new media.  From time to time, there have been calls for the government to assist the traditional media, either through some sort of direct subsidies, or through regulatory changes that could assist in their news coverage to make these entities competitive in the new media world.  While the Commissioner’s speech did not detail those efforts, calls have, for the most part, not suggested direct government subsidies to support traditional news media sources.

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Government letter grade for cars?

September 23, 2010 --

Are You Ready for a New Window Sticker with a Letter Grade?
José Pinomesa, Chairman
Oregon Independent Auto Dealers Association

A window sticker provides a lot of information for consumers who are shopping for a brand new car or truck.  It provides a listing of the standard equipment plus any added options with the final MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) including delivery charges.  It also provides information on EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) fuel economy estimates plus government safety ratings from NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).  Overall it is information that you would want to know before you made a decision to purchase a particular vehicle.

Let’s say you look at a window sticker and notice a grade of A, B, C or D.  Would you begin to loose interest if it was a B, C or D?

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OR, WA & VA on verge of liquor law shake-up

September 22, 2010 --

Oregon, Washington and Virginia Eye Liquor Reform
By Oregon Tax News,

In November, Washington voters will have the opportunity to vote on two initiatives regarding the privatization of liquor stores and revising laws concerning regulation, taxation and government revenues from the distribution and sale of spirits.  If passed, Initiatives 1100 and 1105 will close state liquor stores and authorize private parties to sell and distribute liquor.  Although the initiatives will maintain the liquor excise tax, liquor profits will go to private retailers.  In addition, Initiative 1100 will eliminate beer and wine price controls and bans against volume discounts.  Beer and wine retailers will also become eligible to add a liquor license and will have the opportunity to buy liquor directly from manufacturers.

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The Recession Was Over! (June of Last Year)

September 21, 2010 --

The Recession Was Over! (June of Last Year)
By Bill Conerly,
Conerly Consulting
, Businomics

That nasty old recession is finally over. Turned out it was over June 2009. But now we know it officially. The arbiter of business cycles is a committee at the non-governmental National Bureau of Economic Research, which announced the decision today.

Their key statement was:

The committee decided that any future downturn of the economy would be a new recession and not a continuation of the recession that began in December 2007. The basis for this decision was the length and strength of the recovery to date.

So, they are not saying that things are great now, or that the outlook is rosy. Simply that if things turn down now, it’s a new recession rather than a continuation of the old recession.

For the record, I explained the background on the NBER approach in an older post about the beginning of the recession.

The committee looks at a number of indicators, including the classic four coincident indicators:

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