Monthly Archives: March 2012

Canada eliminates its penny

Canada has eliminated its penny, which cost 1.5 cents to make. That means that all purchases have to be rounded to the nearest five cents. That strikes me as a welcome move. I hate having all those pennies cluttering up my house, desk drawer, car, etc.

Kansas farmers bucking trend to plant more corn

Kansas farmers are expected to plant 4 percent less corn acreage this year, which runs counter to the expected bounty of corn planting nationwide — the highest acreage since 1937. I’m guessing farmers here are switching corn and soybean acres to wheat after the bad experience they had with the drought last year. The USDA also said that nationally existing corn stock is less than expected, so the price is going up for futures for existing stocks and down for future stocks. Wheat in Kansas is the big gainer,  up 8 percent to 9.5 million acres. So far the winter wheat crop looks great, which could mean strong income for wheat farmers this year.

Kansas connection still remains at FDIC

Sheila Bair’s departure last year as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. does not mean all of Kansas’ connection to the headquarters of the powerful bank regulator are completely severed.

On Thursday the Senate approved the nomination of Thomas Hoenig to the FDIC’s board of directors. Hoenig also awaits Senate confirmation as vice chairman of the regulator that administers the deposit insurance fund.

Hoenig was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City for 20 years and retired last October. The Iowa-born economist was a frequent visitor to Wichita during his tenure.

Bair, who was raised in Independence and attended the University of Kansas, was chairman of the FDIC during one of the industry’s most turbulent periods, the 2008 financial crisis.

Dallas Fed chief says “too-big-to-fail” bad for capitalism, economy

Usually, a regional Federal Reserve Bank annual report is routine reading. Some might even say they are boring.

That isn’t the case for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ annual report for 2011.

The title of the report alone clearly suggests why: “Choosing the Road to Prosperity: Why We Must End Too Big to Fail — Now.”

In his letter in the report, Dallas Fed President Richard W. Fisher writes, “The too-big-to-fail institutions that amplified and prolonged the recent financial crisis remain a hindrance to full economic recovery and to the very ideal of American capitalism. It is imperative that we end TBTF.”

And it’s been the subject of a few media reports, including this one on the New York Times’ website.

The top reasons a business person should play Cards for the Cure this week

WICHITA — The last charity poker tournament I played in scored me hockey loot, and now — thanks to The Eagle’s sponsorship of Cards for the Cure — I have a shot ay playing in a major poker tournament that could then land me in the World Series of Poker.

OK, that’s the slimmest of slim odds — I would not bet on me — but the benefit for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Friday and Saturday is sure to be fun.

Founder Spike Anderson, a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, shares his top reasons for business people to participate:

– You can wear pink in public without being ridiculed

– It’s your chance to bluff the competition

– You can go “all in” without putting in a full day’s work

– Nearly everyone knows someone impacted by breast cancer

– It’s your chance to “raise the ante” against your boss

– We’ll post your best poker face on Facebook

To which I would add my No. 1 excuse when I want to do something fun for “work”: Networking!

However, if anyone posts pictures of my poker faces — or of me crying in defeat moments after play starts — there’s going to be trouble.




Poll: More say they are taking charge of their own careers

One of the many changes coming out of the last decade of corporate job shedding, health care insurance shedding, pension/401(k) shedding is the  growing idea that workers are on their own. A new survey by Right Management shows that two-thirds of employees say they now regard themselves as managers of their own careers.

“Ten years ago,” said Jane Goldfine of Right Management, “the concept of self-directed career management was relatively new and not well understood. Now it has traction. Today both management and employees understand and embrace this new reality. The dramatic changes in the job market of the past few years won’t be forgotten in our lifetime, nor will the realization that people need to take control of their futures, even as hiring picks up.”

In reality, it was always that way, of course. But people used to feel that their employers provided more than a paycheck; they provided financial security, a community, an identity. In earlier recessions many companies waited to lay workers off until they were forced to. But companies in a globalizing, ever more competitive world have rushed to distance themselves from the paternalism of 50 years ago, shedding benefits, job training, company picnics or anything else the costs money and implies that the company is responsible for  employees beyond a paycheck. Companies clearly don’t want a relationship with their employees, except a relative few.  The recession and its aftermath have really driven home.

Household interest payments are lowest in 34 years

Low interest rates mean smaller interest payments for American households, according to a USA Today analysis.

The report says the average household is saving $3,100 a year because of lower interest rates.

Such payments haven’t been that low in 34 years, the report says.

Microsoft gains ground disrupting online banking hackers

Computer software giant Microsoft, with the help of the Feds and the RICO Act, or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, was successful late last week in thwarting part of a network of cyber criminals using botnets to steal from online banking networks.

A USA Today report said Microsoft was aided in its efforts by U.S. Marshals and two financial services industry trade groups.

Hawker Beechcraft joins World Economic Forum

WICHITA — Hawker Beechcraft Corp. announced today that it was admitted into the World Economic Forum’s Community of Global Growth Companies, which has a membership of more than 300 companies from over 60 countries. The company said this is recognition that the company has become a global business. Company execs are in Shanghai, right now.

 “As membership is by invitation only, our inclusion into such a prestigious establishment is a huge honor and we look forward to drawing inspiration from other members to use as a foundation for even further expansion on an international scale,” said Shawn Vick, Chairman and CEO, Hawker Beechcraft International. “We hope we can forge strong partnerships with like-minded companies to meet demand from our customers in Asia.”

More importantly, it rates a more exclusive ticket at the annual Big Think-a-thon at Davos, Switzerland in January.


Toulouse, we have a problem

Another glitch with Airbus’A380 superjumbo, this time with the  plane’s Rolls-Royce engine.

The Associated Press reports this morning that Singapore Airlines had to shut down an engine on an A380 en route to Europe on Tuesday and return the plane to Singapore, the carrier said.

The A380 has had several mechanical glitches since entering service. Several carriers discovered small cracks on A380 wings last year. In 2010, a Qantas A380 Rolls-Royce engine exploded in mid-flight over Indonesia, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Singapore.

We’ve been Thunder struck

WICHITA — A lawyer, a writer and an ad exec walk into an arena …

No, it’s not the start of a joke. It’s the start of a new passion for the Wichita Thunder that a few friends and I now have.

I was playing in the very fun Valley Center Charity Poker Tournament earlier this month when I knocked out Thunder general manager Joel Lomurno, which scored me four Thunder tickets, two T-shirts and bragging rights at least until next year’s tournament. (I also outlasted a certain business editor from across the street, but that’s another story.)

Bonnie Bing, refusing to do the Chicken Dance.

I got a small picture of just how crazy Lomurno’s job is when I discovered my four tickets weren’t on the same night. He accommodated me by personally trading in two of the tickets for the same night, sold me a fifth ticket and got them all in the same area, which turned out to be killer third-row seats for Friday’s game. While acting as my personal ticket agent, Lomurno clearly was juggling a number of other things amid a rather chaotic office. That included rushing a new player to Kansas City to work out a visa issue and rushing him back so he could step on the ice that night in order to be eligible for the playoffs later.

Although I’m a Michigan girl who once had an ice rink in her own back yard, I’ve never been into hockey. It was a hoot, though. The fights, the music, the beer. My husband enjoyed the game itself, too. At one point, he turned to me and said, “Honey, can you beat him at cards again?”

Actually, we’ll be happy to buy our own tickets. I think the Thunder could be an even bigger draw than it is if more nonhockey fans such as myself gave it a shot.

Even Bonnie Bing enjoyed it, although she refused to do the Chicken Dance.



Finally, some common sense among banks

WICHITA — Fannie and Freddie, the giants of housing finance, apparently have finally seen the light– that reducing  principle for delinquent home owners is more effective than just tinkering with mortgage rates. That, along with huge numbers of foreclosures and time, could finally lead us out of ts housing mess.