Monthly Archives: January 2011

Bill Gates: Helping the poor is a good investment

Gates+Foundation+Polio.jpgBill Gates has it right. Corporate America and our political leaders should pay attention.

In his third annual letter released toay, Gates expresses grave concern about current economic problems forcing rich countries worldwide to cut financial aid to countries that need help.

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Transportation challenges raise tough questions for Tennessee

Of the mountain of information stuffed into the University of Tennessee’s annual economic forecast released on Thursday, one the most important sections — and probably most overlooked — is a chapter on the state’s transportation network.

Norfolk_Southern01.jpgThis special section offers Gov. Bill Haslam and his new administration a detailed primer on the state’s transportation infrastructure — road, rail, river and air — and its importance to the state economy.

Building and maintaining a robust transportation system is one of the most important services government provides. Virtually every aspect of the economy depends on transportation.

The UT report prepared by the Center for Business and Economic Research lays out the transportation challenges facing Tennessee and asks several provocative questions:

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Tennessee economy making slow, steady progress

Tennessee’s economy is growing again, but it will take years to completely bounce back from the recession, University of Tennessee economists said today in their annual report to the governor.

“While recessions are a natural part of the business cycle, the length and depth of the current cycle has been unprecedented. The decade ahead will represent a period of significant adjustment and restructuring for both the state and national economies,” Matt Murray, CBER associate director and author of the study, said in a prepared statement.

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Tennessee falling behind in Science and Tech rankings

Tennessee continues to fall behind most other states when it comes to converting its science and technology assets into jobs and companies, according to the Milken Institute’s State Technology and Science Index for 2010.

Tennessee slipped into the Bottom 10 at No. 41 in the 2010 rankings, down from No. 40 in the 2008 index and No. 34 in 2004.

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The Grand in Pigeon Forge tops ‘dirtiest’ hotel list

The Grand Resort Hotel & Convention Center in Pigeon Forge has earned the No. 1 ranking no hotel ever wants.

The Grand tops TripAdvisor’s list of the dirtiest hotels in America. The rankings are based on reviews posted on the travel website.

“The southern belle hotel failed to charm TripAdvisor travelers; 87 percent of those who reviewed it recommended against staying there. The unpopular property elicited such hotel review titles as “Worst Hotel Stay of My Life,” “Stay Anywhere Else But Here,” and “Absolutely Horrible!”, TripAdvisor says in a press release.

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Venture capital investments are back

Economy watchers have multiple reasons to be happy today — oil prices fell, the hiring outlook is the best in years and consumer spending is improving.

But the best news of all is that venture capitalists are back in the game. Total VC investments were up 11 percent and the number of deals rose 6 percent in 2010, according to the Dow Jones VentureSource report.

The increase in venture capital investments, while still below pre-recession levels, is a sure sign that people with money are gaining confidence in the economy.

Here are the headlines:

Oil prices fall as Saudis hint at raising supplies

Poll: Hiring plans top layoffs by most in 12 years

Across income scale, Americans cautiously prepare to spend

Bill Frist: A reasonable approach to healthcare reform

It never ceases to amaze me when a politician takes a reasonable stand on a controversial issue. Consider former Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist’s most recent comments on healthcare reform.

Earlier this week,e th surgeon and former Senate Majority Leader, chastized his fel111109score_atb_02.jpglow Republicans for demonizing the healthcare reform act that was passed last year.

The bill is imperfect, Frist said. It is not the bill he would have drafted, but “it is the law of the land and it is the platform, the fundamental platform, upon which all future efforts to make that system better, for that patient, for that family, will be based.”

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Regal freezes executive salaries, approves bonuses

twilight_atb_12.jpgFor the second time in three years, Regal Entertainment Group, the largest movie theater operator in the country, has frozen the salaries of its top executives.

But don’t feel too sorry for the Knoxville-based company’s execs. Regal’s board last week approved healthy six-figure bonuses for the top five officers, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission report filed Wednesday.

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Goldman Sachs’ promises not so transparent

ProPublica columnist Jesse Eisinger offers a withering take on Goldman Sachs’ promise last week to behave better and be more open about its business dealings.

In a nutshell, Eisinger finds the 63-page Business Standards Committee Report a public relations stunt.

” … Some of it was welcome, like the increased financial disclosure. Some may fall by the wayside, like most New Year’s resolutions. Some seems as disingenuous as any piece of professional flackery,” Eisinger writes.

Eisinger’s column: Goldman’s Self-Help: Eat, Pay, Trade

Goldman Sachs’ Business Standards Committee Report

Alcoa CEO touts China deal

Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of aluminum giant Alcoa Inc., which has a major manufacturing operation in Blount County, was on CNBC today touting the company’s $7.5B deal with China Power Investment Corp.

Check out Klaus here.

The memorandum of understanding calls for joint efforts both inside and outside china, including development o “clean energy projects such as wind and solar and state-of-the-art aluminum smelting operations. Both parties will also work toward developing high-end aluminum industrial parks,” according to an Alcoa press release.