Monthly Archives: April 2012

Walmart figures out how to sell internet goods for cash

Walmart is introducing a new service in which its cash-only customers can buy its much broader array of online products. There’s no stuffing dollar bills into the computer. Instead, customers order online, use the “cash” button at checkout and are immediately emailed a number. The customer must go to at store and pay for the order within 48 hours.  Once the money is received, the product will be shipped.

It’s another example of how hard Walmart has worked during the recession to reconnect with its long-time core customers.

Tea Party congressmen take money from bankers

Oh, the irony. Two years after being elected on a slate of drastic change in the way things are done in Washington and angry at the money given to save the big banks, some of the incumbent tea partiers are looking a lot like just another congressman.

It’s supply and demand, stupid

Here’s a column from a McClatchy colleague that nicely summarizes the great oil price debate, including the requisite supply and demand canard from those who angrily defend price hikes. I loved the column. I lived the column in this space, actually.

And here’s another piece on the difficulty in prosecuting those who manipulate oil prices on the commodities market.

The one thing we do know, as Bob Ray Sanders points out, is that it isn’t supply and demand, as much as those who are profiting today want you to believe that it is.

Downtown Daycare to dedicate new playground equipment

New playground equipment awaits clients of the Downtown Daycare Center.

The Junior League of Wichita said in a release today it will have a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony at the center at 4 p.m. Thursday to celebrate the remodeled playground, healthy nutrition curriculum and family nutrition workshops.

The Downtown Daycare Center, 944 South Topeka St., has been the beneficiary of the League’s efforts this year to upgrade not only the playground, but also the programming and services available at the center.

The center started in 1971 and currently offers care for about 80 children up to 5 years old, according to the release from the Junior League.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to work with the staff of the Downtown Daycare Center,” Junior League of Wichita President Katy Dorrah said in the release.

Target’s remodeling project means more fresh food at store on West Maple

The Target store on West Maple is among 90 stores that the company says it will finish remodeling by the end of June.

Target, based in Minneapolis, said in a news release today  that upon completion of the project, the store at  7575 Maple will offer more fresh food and produce.

Nearly 1,000 Target stores currently offer an expanded food layout. By the end of the year, the company said more than 1,100 Target stores will offer the expanded fresh food layout.

FDIC says progress made on insurance fund, but higher assessments will remain

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is making good progress restoring its Deposit Insurance Fund after several years of bank failures, but bankers shouldn’t expect the regulator to pull back anytime soon on the higher assessments it’s charging banks.

That’s what the FDIC’s board of directors heard Monday at its meeting at the FDIC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

According to a staff presentation and report to directors, the fund’s balance has increased for eight consecutive quarters and was at $11.8 billion at the end of 2011. But that represents a reserve ratio of 0.17 percent. The FDIC has a congressional mandate, via the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, to reach a reserve ratio of 1.35 percent by Sept. 30, 2020.

FDIC staff told directors that their best estimate is that the plan to restore the fund in time to meet the Dodd-Frank requirements. But it may be the second half of 2018 before any easing of higher assessments on some banks occur.

Following the release of the update on the fund, the American Bankers Association issued a statement in which it said “the FDIC has been overly conservative in setting aside reserves for possible failures that did not occur.”

ALEC says Kansas about middling in economic competitiveness

The American Legislative Exchange Council, the conservative group that encourages state legislators to lower taxes and reduce regulation, ranks Kansas ranks 26th in competitiveness in its annual Rich States, Poor States study, up a notch from 2011. The report was written by economist Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, senior economics writer at The Wall Street Journal, and Jonathan Williams, director of ALEC’s Center for State Fiscal Reform.

 

Women’s business group offers luncheon on networking

The Wichita Independent Business Association is inviting local businesswomen to its Women’s Leadership Alliance luncheon on Tuesday, May 1.

The lunch is from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Wichita Area Association of Realtors, 170 W. Dewey, Suite 100. The cost is $10 and the event is open to everyone, including those who aren’t members of the group.

The program will be on the topic of “speed networking.”

For more information or to make reservations, call the WIBA office at 316-201-3264 by Friday.

Walmart investigating bribes in Mexico

New York Times reports Walmart built its massive presence in Mexico using bribes. Its proves how hard it is for business to both maximize profits/growth and observe other values such as ethics, building community, etc.

Koch Pipeline wins safety, environmental awards

Koch Pipeline Company was awarded the American Petroleum Institute’s Distinguished Award for Outstanding Safety and Environmental Performance and its Environmental Performance Award for large pipeline operators for the second year in a row.

Koch Pipeline’s Wood River Pipeline runs from Illinois through northern Missouri to central Iowa, and carries crude oil to refineries in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Koch Pipeline’s lists some highlights as:

  • Employees have worked 7,408,689 hours since the last lost-time incident (days away from work and restricted work injuries).
  • No employees lost a day of work due to injury or restricted work cases.
  • Koch Pipeline is the only pipeline company in the nation with an entire pipeline system qualified as a VPP Star work site.
  • The company designed and built a pipeline station in Texas with a closed-vent storage tank system and flare device to minimize volatile organic compounds emissions.
  • Koch Pipeline communicates pipeline safety to landowners and neighbors who live near a pipeline, when pipeline activities are within public view, and when specialized projects occur on the right of way.

Koch Pipeline operates about 4,000 miles of crude oil, refined petroleum products, chemicals, ethanol, and natural gas liquids pipelines in Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.

 

Starbucks to stop using bugs for food dye

Here’s one just for fun … or at least to remind you that we don’t always want to know what goes into our food:

Starbucks says it’s going to stop using crushed bugs as a food dye, according to an Associated Press report.

The Seattle-based coffee chain said in a blog post on its website that it made the decision to reformulate its drinks after feedback from consumers prompted a “thorough” evaluation.

The company says it will swap out cochineal extract, which is made from the juice of a tiny beetle, and instead use lycopene, a tomato-based extract.

The AP report says cochineal dye is widely used in foods and cosmetics products such as lipstick, yogurt and shampoo. Starbucks had used the coloring in its strawberry flavored mixed drinks and foods like the raspberry swirl cake and red velvet whoopie pie.

The company says the items will be reformulated by the end of June.

Uh-oh, Oklahoma City

With a lifetime of ties to Oklahoma, it’s been uncanny to notice how many of the state’s legendary businesses successes turn into falling stars.

The latest wobbling success story is Chesapeake Energy, the Aubrey McClendon energy empire now reportedly threatened by its CEO’s internal loans.

Chesapeake has been one of Oklahoma City’s shining jewels in Bricktown revitalization, and McClendon has been active in that downtown revival, including his piece of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, so any corporate problems would be a huge blow to the city and the state.

Something to watch.