economy

The New York Stock Exchange
Roland Weber / Creative Commons

Update: 5:10pm

The New York Stock Exchanged closed.  AFP News reports "GM stocks closed at 34.19 dollars, up 3.6 percent from GM's initial sale price announced on Wednesday, but below session highs of 35.60 dollars a share."

Update: 3:00pm

The Detroit News reports the GM executives who attended the opening day for GM stock on the New York Stock Exchange bought hundreds of shares in the company themselves.

GM North American chief Mark Reuss called it an emotional day, saying he was proud to work for GM and thanking taxpayers for giving GM "a second chance."

The News reports the GM execs will head back to Detroit "after today's events in order to attend a private employee celebration at the company's Renaissance Center headquarters."

Update: 11:04pm

GM  executives rang the bell and played a recording of a Chevy Camaro revving its engine to open trading at the New York Stock Exchange this morning. As of this writing, the stock, bought during the IPO at $33 per share, has jumped to $35 per share in trading. Here's how it's tracking next to Ford's stock (F): 

GMC SUVs in a car lot
user ep_jhu / Creative Commons

The Center for Automotive Research released a report today that analyzed the government bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler.

$80 billion was given to the auto companies. To date $13.4 billion has been repaid.

Tomorrow the GM "initial public offering" is expected to raise another $22 billion.

The reports authors say that even if the government doesn't get all of the $80 billion back, the government's investment will still have been worth it.

The report concludes:

Timothy Geithner at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2009
Jay Tamboli / Creative Commons

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that GM's IPO tomorrow could be a biggy:

General Motors Co. said Wednesday that it will increase the size of its initial public offering by about 30% to 478 million shares, which could make it the largest global IPO in history.

Erika Katz

Drive east from downtown Pittsburgh and you’ll pass a church. At least, it was a church.

Today, the alter has been replaced with stainless steel casks of beer, and the pews are now a bar and tables. It’s another Pittsburgh transformation. Saint John the Baptist Church is now the Church Brew Works.

It’s one of those places people tell you: you have to go when you visit Pittsburgh. So, it wasn’t a hard sell to get a bunch of young professionals to meet there.

Zach Morris / Creative Commons

When Dennis Yablonsky took over Pittsburgh's main development group last year, everyone was telling him it was time to brag.

Old General Motors Headquaters
Historic American Buildings Survey

General Motors (GM) will be in the news a lot this week, so if you sat out the GM story up until this point, here's a quick summary to get you caught up.

Today's General Motors is not your father's General Motors. The old GM went bankrupt. The company couldn't pay its bills (they had some big ones).

But instead of letting the whole company collapse, a court stepped in to reorganize the auto giant (under chapter 11 bankruptcy).

The court split the old GM in two.

User 1sock / Creative Commons

When I first got to Pittsburgh, I did something foolish.

Screen grab of New York Times web page
Screen grab from the New York Times

It's easy to criticize. Now you're in charge.

The New York Times has created a slick little interactive tool that displays different solutions to the country's projected budget deficits.

Former GM Wyoming Stamping Plant
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith covered the auction at the former GM Wyoming Stamping plant. The plant closed in June 2009 as part of GM's bankruptcy.

The auction was held on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. The auctioneers said they'll sell off anything leftover today.

Smith said it was easy to get lost as she took photos of the more than 2 million square foot building. Here's an audio slideshow she put together:

A handwritten letter from President Barack Obama
Gary Zimet / Moments in Time

A woman from Monroe, Michigan made news last week when she sold her hand written letter from President Barack Obama for $7,000.

Knight, Tom
Gerry Leslie / Homeless Management Information Systems

In 2008, the state estimates there were a little more than 86,000 people without a home. Half of them were families.

Ashley Steele and her son Richard Peake
Kate Davidson / Changing Gears

By Kate Davidson of Changing Gears

Five years ago this month, a group of anonymous donors made a radical promise to Kalamazoo, Michigan. They would pay for almost every public school graduate to go to a state-supported college or university. Our Changing Gears project has been profiling towns across the region as they try to reinvent themselves for the new economy. Here, they take a closer look at the "Kalamazoo Promise."

restaurant week in GR
restaurantweekgr.com

A number of Grand Rapids restaurants are booked this weekend thanks to the new event celebrating great dining at a reasonable price.

San Chez sous chef Daryl Rector prepares for the night shift. "We've got verduras y tortas for the vegan crowd. It's a spicy black beans & quinoa cakes with roasted vegetables and this avo-cumber sauce," Rector explains. "That's a fake yogurt that we make with avocado - basically puree that, add acidity and sweetness and you can't really tell the difference between that and yogurt."

Courtesy Russ Hicks

Two big changes recently happened to Russ Hicks. His wife Carol was diagnosed with cancer and passed away.

“I tell you right after Carol died I was completely rudderless and almost berserk. There was a time, a week afterward, at work where they said ‘you 'gotta go home and we'll drive you home!'”

Shortly after that, Hicks got laid off from his job of 22 years at a factory warehouse.

“And so here I am, within a year’s time I’d lost my wife and my job.”

 Time is running out again for many Michiganders living on unemployment benefits.

 Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders have spent nearly two years surviving on unemployment checks as the state struggles with a double digit jobless rate.

But time may be running out for those benefits.  Congress has passed several extensions but may not this time. 

Norm Isotello is with the state department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.    He concedes there is an argument that extended benefits may get in the way of people looking for work...but

Catherine Hadler

Several Detroit artists have started what they call “an experiment in micro-funding.”  Once a month they host a public dinner that costs five dollars. During the dinner, several local groups pitch ideas for a creative project they’d like to do.  Diners vote on the proposals and at the end of the night the winning project takes home the money raised from dinner.

 

Dancers
Amelia Falk / Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers

35 arts organizations in west Michigan have been picked to be part of a new two-year training program run by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The goal of the program is to teach arts leaders how to fundraise better and attract new board members, among other things.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Cross Village in northern Michigan is like a lot of small, rural towns in the state, where money is tight and jobs are scarce. And when winter comes around and all the tourists are gone, the outlook is even bleaker. So a group of women started up a cottage industry of rug making to help locals sustain themselves through the lean months.

23-year old Jasmine Petrie wears her hair in pigtails and has tattoos on her back and arms; she looks more like a rock star than a rug weaver.

aPorte works on one panel of his pencil drawing that won ArtPrize
artprize.org

A new survey shows this year's ArtPrize attracted more people from outside Grand Rapids than last year's contest. Preliminary numbers show half the people who participated in ArtPrize came from outside of the Grand Rapids area. Only 6% came from outside of Michigan.

The inside of Michigan Central Train Station
Albert Duce / Creative Commons

My Dad grew up in Detroit in the 1930s. He described a city humming with activity: factory whistles sounding, street cars rolling by, and broad sidewalks crowded with people.

We went back to his old neighborhood several years ago.  His house was on Lakeview Avenue.

It's gone now, along with the houses on most of the block. I was left to imagine his childhood home, and the stickball games he'd play in the alley, by trying to extract mental images from the remaining concrete slabs we could see.

Officials under Stadium Avenue bridge in Ann Arbor
Congressmen John Dingell's Office

Congressman John Dingell's office has announced that the federal government will chip in $13.9 million dollars to fix an aging Ann Arbor bridge.

The four lane bridge on Stadium Avenue, which runs past the "Big House," has been down to two lanes because it's so dilapidated.

Abandoned house in Flint, MI
Flickr user jamesharv2005 / Creative Commons

More houses are coming down in Flint. Kristin Longley reports in the Flint Journal that 174 houses will come down by December 31st. That's on top of the 125 houses city crews are expected to take down by the end of the year.

Flint union leader Sam Muma says city crews can't take down all the homes scheduled for demolition:

"There's no way the crews I represent, the city employees, can handle all that. We have a situation quite unique in our time."

Building a knee wall in an attic
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio's The Environment Report

Habitat for Humanity says it's saving money by fixing up foreclosure in Michigan, rather than building new. The Environment Report's Rebecca Williams visited volunteers working on rehabbing a house in Ypsilanti Township. Megan Rogers with Habitat says rehabbing foreclosures costs about 1/3 less than building new, but it can be a bit more challenging:

NPR's Planet Money's toxic asset creature
NPR's Planet Money

The team at NPR's Planet Money has come up with another way for us to understand the financial crisis. They bought a pet.

One dollar bills
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

We collectively owe around $828 billion in revolving credit debt (that includes credit card debt), according to the latest numbers from the Federal Reserve.

Now, a column in the Detroit Free Press is reporting that for the first time ever, student loan debt has outstripped  revolving credit debt, coming in at $850 billion.

The Michigan House of Representatives.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Great Recession has meant tough times for state governments. Michigan has been hit extra hard and leaders in the state have been fighting over a shrinking budget for several years.  These budget battles have led to brief government shutdowns in years past. But with the new fiscal year starting October 1st, leaders in the state seem to have resolved their differences.

Cover of the report Executive Excess 2010: CEO Pay and the Great Recession
IPS

A report from the Institute for Policy Studies looked at CEO compensation from the 50 companies that layed off more workers during the recession. They found the CEOs at these companies are paid more, on average, than the average pay for the CEOs running to top 500 companies in the U.S. (S&P 500).

Sarah Anderson is the lead author of the report.  She says,

"CEOs are squeezing workers to boost short-term profits and fatten their own paychecks."  

help wanted sign
kandyjaxx/creative commons

The unemployment picture in Michigan is still bad. It stands at 13.1% now. The worst it's been since the early 1980's.

Now, a new report by the Michigan League for Human Services puts the long-term unemployment picture into perspective.  In 2000, people unemployed for more than 26 weeks, accounted for 6.5% of the total number of unemployed. Today, the long-term unemployed account for 40.8% of the unemployed.

The report says,

Actress at the Michigan State Fair
Bob Vigiletti / Michigan Radio Picture Project

There's a new post on Michigan Radio's Picture Project site.  Bob Vigiletti has eighteen beautiful shots taken in the waning years of the Michigan State Fair.  The fair, proclaimed to be the country's oldest, was closed because of declining attendance and revenues in 2009. Vigiletti writes:

It is only through out thoughts and photographs that we preserve and cherish memories of the past.

A home being built in Norfolk, VA
Ryan Steinhour / U.S. Navy

(by Rina Miller, Michigan Radio)

Michigan actually fared better in new home sales than other parts of the nation.  Some economists say improvements in the auto industry are helping stabilize Michigan's economy.

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