Economy

EYE ON THE PIE: Will people pay more for better care?Restricted Content

August 18, 2008
Morton Marcus
It was dark and I was feeling anxious about getting this column out on time. Then there was a tap at the sliding door to the deck. It was an apparition, a ghost, a figure all in white out of a 19th-century novel. But the tap was real. I opened the door and recognized her. "Nellie," I said, "what are you doing out here at this hour?" Yes, it was Nellie, the Nervous Nurse, who lives close by. "My frog...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: An open letter to the commercial lending communityRestricted Content

August 18, 2008
Brian Mann
Dear lenders: Perhaps you have seen the recent headlines that declared suburban Indianapolis among the best places in the country to live and raise a family. Perhaps you've also taken note that there are a lot of things happening in our communities. Big projects abound in the Indi anapolis area, including Lucas Oil Stadium and the Midfield Terminal at Indianapolis International Airport. People are so excited about the new stadium they lined up for hours trying to get a tour...
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Strip centers feeling sting of housing market slump: Developers cutting back on new retail projectsRestricted Content

August 18, 2008
Scott Olson
Those ubiquitous retail strip centers are beginning to wither under a housing slump that has cast a dark cloud over much of the U.S economy. Heavily dependent on new-home construction, strip-center developments have been hurt by tough residential real estate conditions that have spread into the commercial arena and dampened retail activity. Nationally, the volume of strip-center investment transactions is down 77 percent from a year ago, according to a June commercial report from the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors....
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Why the resurgence of railroads will help drive stateRestricted Content

August 18, 2008
Mike Hicks
I have two friends who are train fanatics of the worst kind. These guys aren't just dazzled by the sight of a large train; they furtively seek them out. One friend has made it his life's ambition to ride every rail line in Great Britain. The other scours eBay for rail schedules from the 19th century. Both of these wonderful men have exceptionally tolerant wives. I am a bit concerned my 4-year-old is turning into one of these creatures. He...
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Creating opportunities in tough times: Tightening economy requires 'patchworking' sources of incomeRestricted Content

August 11, 2008
Della Pacheco
Women aren't leaving the work force to stay home with their kids-they're being forced out in equal numbers with men. That's the word from "Equality in Job Loss: Women are Increasingly Vulnerable to Layoffs During Recessions," a congressional report released July 21. Often women who face job losses decide to forego the job hunt and opt instead for selfemployment, the report said. Might this job downturn trigger a boom in entrepreneurship for women? Not if they don't already have the...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Why Indiana's AAA bond rating should please all of usRestricted Content

August 11, 2008
Mike Hicks
Sometimes, obscure economic issues matter a great deal to our economic well-being. One example is the news that Indiana's bond rankings have risen to the highest level, the highly coveted AAA ranking from Standard and Poor's. Why that happened, what it means and why it is important should matter to Hoosiers. To begin with, all states, like virtually all households, borrow money to ease cash flow issues. States also borrow money to make infrastructure investments. The government essentially takes out...
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Commentary: Energy woes need quick, lasting fixRestricted Content

August 11, 2008
Mickey Maurer
Last month, the front page of The Wall Street Journal featured 25-yearold Saeed Khouri, who paid at auction the equivalent of $14 million of our increasingly worthless American dollars for a license plate bearing "1." His cousin, Talal Khouri, threw in $9 million in pocket change for tag "5" to tool around Abu Dhabi in his Rolls Royce. Get this, the Khouris declined to be interviewed because they didn't want to be the center of attention. I am not particularly...
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BEHIND THE NEWS: News from the front lines: More tough times aheadRestricted Content

August 4, 2008
Greg Andrews
The past 12 months have been hard to take, with all the gloom-anddoom headlines about the weak housing market, subprime credit crisis and softening economy. We're all ready for some good news. Unfortunately, I can't provide it here. That's because executives on the front lines of Indiana business-those most tuned in to the twists and turns of the state's economy-aren't ready to call a turnaround yet. In second-quarter conference calls with analysts, the executives are trumpeting their firms' ability to...
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Racquet Club Pro Shop continues record growth: Team sales pushing specialty retailer's expansionRestricted Content

August 4, 2008
Anthony Schoettle
In the midst of a down economy and tepid interest in tennis, the only problem the Indianapolis Racquet Club Pro Shop has is where to expand next. Pushed by double-digit-percentage sales growth in nine of the last 12 years, the IRC Pro Shop has expanded from a 750-square-foot shoebox to become an industry giant in the specialty tennis category. Most tennis club pro shops are breakeven operations, but IRC officials said they have seen profit grow each of the last...
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Commentary: Please copy this columnRestricted Content

August 4, 2008
Chris Katterjohn
(In deference to '60s radical Abbie Hoffman and his 1971 cult paperback "Steal This Book," I hereby relinquish our copyright to this column and give you permission to copy it. I'll tell you what to do with it later.) Silly me, I thought Mitch Daniels had really shaken things up and done a great job in his first four years as governor. To hear his Democratic opponents in the upcoming election tell it, you'd think he had provided uninspired leadership...
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Hotels feeling travel slump: City occupany rates fall, but downtown operators performing well this year thanks to convention bizRestricted Content

August 4, 2008
Scott Olson
Staggeringly high gasoline prices and a sputtering economy are preventing scores of would-be travelers from packing up their thirsty sport-utility vehicles and heading to their favorite vacation destinations. Nationwide, hotel occupancy rates slipped to 68 percent through June of this year, down from 71 percent the same time last year, according to the most recent data from Tennessee-based Smith Travel Research. For the most part, local hotel operators are feeling the same pain. Through the first six months of the...
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Pearson Partners recovers from HHGregg loss: Agency gains new clients, projects 20-percent growthRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Anthony Schoettle
Ron Pearson said business at his Indianapolis-based advertising agency over the last year has been "stellar." Exaggeration or not, any growth at Pearson Partners is a 180-degree reversal from the dire situation the firm faced just a year ago. In April 2007, Pearson's firm-then called Pearson McMahon Fletcher England-lost its biggest client, HHGregg. Last summer, Pearson cut nearly half its work force, paring the agency down to about 20 employees in the wake of losing the $20-million-plus account. Pearson's capitalized...
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Bank-run scenes create concerns: IndyMac situation unlikely in Indiana, but customers should check out stability of their banks, experts warnRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Cory Schouten
It was a scary scene, reminiscent of the Great Depression: Customers lined up outside California's IndyMac Bank branches to withdraw deposits after a bank run led to the bank's failure. The images have driven some central Indiana customers-businesses and individuals-to take a more critical look at the strength of their banks and the safety of their deposits. Even as financial stocks rallied in mid-July, the risk remains for more bank failures. Dismal earnings reports and massive write-downs continued in recent...
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VIEWPOINT: Let's bring government into this centuryRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Ann Murtlow
In the early 1970s, employees at Xerox Corp. developed a breakthrough version of the desktop personal computer called the Xerox Alto. The innovation was quickly shelved by the company-everyone knew there was no market for a personal computer! It was later licensed to Steve Jobs along with a few other "orphan technologies" for $1 million in stock in his young company, Apple. The rest, as they say, is history. Xerox is still a solid company, valued at $17 billion. Of...
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Independent coffee shops feeling perkier than StarbucksRestricted Content

July 28, 2008
Chip Cutter

At a time when Starbucks is closing hundreds of stores nationwide, he and other local independent coffeehouse owners say they're doing just fine, largely because they're infusing their stores with personality and offering consumers an experience chain stores can't replicate.

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EYE ON THE PIE: Taking the con out of economicsRestricted Content

July 21, 2008
Morton Marcus
A marketing professor at the Kelley School of Business used to proclaim he could teach all one needed to know about economics in a week. That was back in the days when faculty would spend a few minutes of the morning hours in the coffee room engaged in friendly banter as well as serious discussion. The coffee room and my friend are both gone, but to me, a teacher of economics, the insult remains. Imagine-denigrating my calling, my faith, with...
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10 local Starbucks will be among 600 nationwide closingsRestricted Content

July 21, 2008
Cory Schouten
At least 10 local Starbucks stores are slated to close by early next year as part of a 600-store nationwide purge. The chain has named only 50 of the stores it plans to close, including two in Indiana, but it has notified the others. Those include at least six in Indianapolis and stores in Carmel, Greenwood and Beech Grove.
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Carmel's play for the arts: Some fear it will come at Indianapolis' expenseRestricted Content

July 21, 2008
Chris O\'malley
The $80 million-plus Carmel Performing Arts Center, a neo-classical-styled concert hall designed to be an acoustical masterpiece, is still two years from opening. But it's already the source of some dissonance in the Indianapolis arts community to the tune of Mozart's String Quartet No. 19, in C major. On one hand, Indianapolis-area performing arts groups would sacrifice to theater god Dionysus for a chance to perform at the 1,600-seat music hall or at its adjacent 500-seat theater. But others fret...
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Events facing higher costs at Lucas Oil Stadium: Venue managers also bracing for additional expensesRestricted Content

July 14, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Local big-draw events are itchy to make their first-ever runs in the $675 million Lucas Oil Stadium, in hopes the roomier venue will let them draw more attendees who want to kick the tires and enjoy the new stadium smell. But there's a trade-off-a bigger price tag to cover security guards, ushers and cleanup. And at least one event is weighing higher ticket prices as a result. "I don't think there's any doubt [Lucas Oil Stadium] will cost more based...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: What we can learn from our kids' summer activitiesRestricted Content

July 14, 2008
Mike Hicks
Summer is at its midpoint, and with it comes the end of youth baseball, scout camp and a seemingly endless string of swim meets for the Hicks household. Like many of you out there, I welcome a few more quiet evenings at home. But during those long third-inning stretches and sleepless evenings in a tent, I spent some time calculating how much we value these youth sports and activities. You might be surprised what this math tells us about ourselves....
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BEHIND THE NEWS: Finish Line's stock surge salves investors' woundsRestricted Content

July 7, 2008
Greg Andrews
Finish Line Inc. always has been a volatile stock. Jump in at the right time and make a bundle. Pick the wrong time and take a bath. To be sure, investors who had the foresight to invest during Finish Line's darkest days early this year-when it seemed inevitable that the company would have to close on the $1.5 billion acquisition of Tennessee-based Genesco Inc.-fall in the former category. Since hitting an all-time low of $1.48 a share Jan. 10, the...
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More firms adding diversity coordinators: Law practices, others see benefit to encouraging diverse workplaceRestricted Content

July 7, 2008
Scott Olson
Brita Horvath celebrated her first year on the job late last month as Baker & Daniels LLP's diversity and pro bono coordinator. Even in a part-time capacity, paying someone to tackle diversity issues within the workplace would have been unthinkable 30 years ago, recalls Greg Utken, a firm partner who co-chairs its diversity committee. "When I got out [of law school] in 1974, the firm I was with had no women and no people of color; it was white male,"...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Social-responsibility movement has a dark sideRestricted Content

July 7, 2008
Mike Hicks
Identifying corporate villainy is a delightful pastime that virtually all of us have reveled in at some point or another. There are only two problems with this form of entertainment. A description of the first comes simply stated to us from the Gospel of John as "he who is without sin cast the first stone." The second problem is a general lack of intellectual rigor in the debate. The heavily funded attacks on corporate America come primarily from organizations with...
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Need something? They'll trade you: Industry consolidation is remaking bartering terrainRestricted Content

June 30, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
Marketing firm owner Lorraine Ball knows how to promote a business-a valuable commodity among cashstrapped entrepreneurs looking to bolster their bottom lines. So it's little wonder that she is able to trade her expertise for services she needs, whether it's help with an online video or time with a personal trainer. Ball is among a growing group of small-business owners embracing the age-old barter system, methaphorically scratching one another's backs to save on cash and credit. Although Ball prefers to...
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EYE ON THE PIE: It's not just the economy, stupidRestricted Content

June 30, 2008
Morton Marcus
No doubt, the Daniels administration will trumpet the fact that Indiana was the ninth-fastestgrowing state in the first quarter of this year. That's right; personal income in the Hoosier state grew at an annual rate of 5.1 percent, while the nation advanced 4.6 percent. But, as noted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, which generates these data, Indiana was among the fastergrowing states because of dramatic increases in the prices of corn and soybeans. North Dakota came in first,...
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