Economy

ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Many aren't prepared for jobs of the futureRestricted Content

September 19, 2005
Patrick Barkey
To be illiterate in our society is more than an inconvenience, or an obstacle to making a living. It is also a badge of shame. That's why we should all be concerned about the results of a January study that told us almost a million Indiana workers-one-third of the work force-failed to meet the minimum literacy standards for knowledge-based jobs. Many of us in the fields of research and policymaking have responded to this disturbing finding the same way we...
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ROUGH ROAD AHEAD?: Chrysler foundry's closing a warning sign for other plantsRestricted Content

September 12, 2005
Anthony Schoettle
Chrysler foundry's closing a warning sign for other plants The closing of DaimlerChrysler Corp.'s foundry west of downtown at the end of this month signals more than the end of nearly 900 jobs there. "There's a fundamental change occurring in the automotive industry right now," said Matthew Will, director of the University of Indianapolis' graduate business program and associate dean in the School of Business. "Unless local manufacturers in this sector don't reposition, I would certainly expect to see more job...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Façade of confidence saves us from anarchyRestricted Content

September 12, 2005
Patrick Barkey
You may not know this, but every banker and policymaker does. If every one of us got out of bed tomorrow morning, drove to our banks or financial institutions, and tried to withdraw our money, the system that seems so solid today would suffer a complete collapse. The same thing would happen to the electrical grid if every device that could draw power were switched on at once. In fact, if every one of us decided today to fill up...
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State unrolls insurer-friendly plan: New strategy aims to recruit, nurture insurance businesses; watchdogs wary of approachRestricted Content

September 5, 2005
Tom Murphy
The state of Indiana is aggressively courting the insurance industry to add high-paying jobs to the economy, a strategy that comes with a touch of controversy. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. announced late last month the appointment of Mike Chrysler as Indiana's first-ever director of insurance initiatives. Chrysler then hit the ground driving. He's already visited the Fort Wayne market and plans to reach several other corners of Indiana to let insurers know the state appreciates their business and wants...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Rising health care costs killing jobs and incomeRestricted Content

September 5, 2005
Patrick Barkey
Most of us have been in a doctor's office, and many of us have had conditions that require treatment. But few of us are likely to hear any information presented on the cost of different treatment options along with their benefits, especially if we are one of the 170 million people covered by employer- or governmentprovided health insurance. It is an amazing fact that nearly $3 trillion of health care goods and services are ordered off a menu that has...
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NOTIONS: The power of nature and the perils of human natureRestricted Content

September 5, 2005
Bruce Hetrick
Some colleagues and I drove south into Evansville last week just as the remnants of Hurricane Katrina blew in from the north. As we pulled into the parking lot of our destination, we watched workers battling wind and rain on the walk from their cars to the office. Twice, we saw sturdy umbrellas, held nearly horizontal against the oncoming gale, collapse upon their users. The drenched souls fumbled with the resulting maze of metal and fabric as they struggled across...
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BEHIND THE NEWS: Here's a Blues performance that won't get you downRestricted Content

September 5, 2005
Greg Andrews
Anthem Inc.'s $1.9 billion initial public offering in late 2001 set all kinds of records. It was the biggest IPO for a U.S. health care company ever, and the biggest IPO for a Hoosier company of any kind. But that company, now known as WellPoint Inc., was puny compared with its size today. Then, it had a market value of $3.9 billion; now, thanks to acquisitions and a surging stock price, it's worth $45 billion. WellPoint shares were trading last...
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City's mall gamble paid off: After 10 years, Circle Centre at core of rejuvenated downtownRestricted Content

September 5, 2005
Greg Andrews
In February, Goldsmith suspended construction while he and advisers analyzed options. Within months, he gave Circle Centre the green light, and construction resumed-but not because he was convinced the project would succeed. "In the end, we decided job creation in the urban core and the psychological survival of the city were dependent on some development occurring downtown," recalled Goldsmith, now a professor at Harvard University. "We went forward with the mall with great anxiety." Today, 10 years after the September...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: The world might be flat, but construction costs aren'tRestricted Content

September 5, 2005
Don Altemeyer
For the most part, construction has been a local story, a story about local workers building buildings in our community. But the story isn't so local anymore. Global economic forces have begun to intersect with local issues at the construction site. The result: a significant and ongoing increase in construction costs across central Indiana and the rest of the United States-an increase that shows no signs of slowing. Through the first quarter of 2004, construction costs increased at a calm...
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EYE ON THE PIE: We need better number-crunchersRestricted Content

September 5, 2005
Morton Marcus
Quietly, the Daniels administration is doing something that may be a historic first: It is trying to improve the information available for administrators, legislators, analysts, scholars and ordinary citizens. It's a big task, with many barriers to success. Typically, units of state and local governments don't share data with one another. They think narrowly about what they have to do today and don't consider the needs of anyone else. The Indiana Data Initiative-which involves Indiana University, other state universities and...
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Insurers thinking younger: Healthy, uninsured and 20? WellPoint, Golden Rule, others would like to sell you a policyRestricted Content

August 29, 2005
Tracy Donhardtreporter
WellPoint Inc. and other insurers think they've found a hot new market-offering high-deductible individual health insurance policies to uninsured people who are young and healthy. It's a market insurers historically may have overlooked, based on the misconception that uninsured people are poor and in bad health, said Dana McMurtry, vice president of health policy and analysis at WellPoint. Nationally, more than half the 45 million uninsured earn more than $25,000 a year and more than one-quarter top $50,000 annually, according...
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EYE ON THE PIE: How home buyers step off a cliffRestricted Content

August 29, 2005
Morton Marcus
Why does Indiana have such high bankruptcy and mortgage foreclosure rates? No one knows. Many say the economy in Indiana has been responsible for our troubles, but other states have been hit as hard and not had the same bankruptcy and foreclosure problems. Perhaps we are a state of dreamers, people who want to own a home but do not understand the obligations we assume. Our dreams are encouraged by the federal government, which allows mortgage interest and property tax...
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Ethanol fuel pumps may debut here by '06: Still no place for the masses to buy E85, despite interest in the alternative to gasolineRestricted Content

August 29, 2005
Chris O\'malley
Even though Indiana is one of the nation's biggest growers of corn-the key ingredient in cheaper-than-gasoline ethanol-not a single ethanol pump is available to the average motorist in the Indianapolis area. That twisted irony in a day of record gasoline prices may soon be no more, with a handful of central Indiana gas stations likely to start offering an ethanol alternative-known as E85-by yearend, according to proponents of the fuel. "I hope by Christmas to have a couple in the...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: High energy prices make consumers act rationallyRestricted Content

August 29, 2005
Patrick Barkey
Have you seen the latest opinion polls on the Bush administration? At a time when the U.S. economy is growing faster than that of any other industrialized nation, when unemployment rates are down and consumer spending is up, less than half of us think the president is doing a good job handling the economy. There's plenty to find fault in our economic performance, of course. We still have a massive trade imbalance with the rest of the world. The federal...
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More business owners embracing economy: High fuel costs, personal debt dampen some optimismRestricted Content

August 22, 2005
Scott Olson
Business owners are beginning to show signs of completely emerging from a recessional slumber, although some holdouts remain unconvinced an economic recovery is in full swing. The confidence exuded by the state's massive manufacturing sector could be sending the most optimistic signal. From 2000 to 2003, manufacturers in Indiana were stung especially hard by the soft economy, shedding 75,000 jobs. While many of those positions may never return, employment levels have at least stabilized. That seems to have provided enough...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Don't make too much of July economic dataRestricted Content

August 22, 2005
Patrick Barkey
There are dates on the calendar that make some of us tremble. The Ides of March was a bad one, as I recall, for a certain Roman emperor long ago. Stock market traders know and fear those triplewitching days when futures and options contracts expire. But for those of us who track the regional economies around the state, it's really a whole month that makes us sweat. It's the month of July, thanks to the screwy data we receive for...
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Stoeppelwerth & Associates: 'Staking' their claim on growth Local engineering firm finds abundant opportunitiesRestricted Content

August 22, 2005
Della Pacheco
While most 8-year-old boys were playing with toy trucks, Dave Stoeppelwerth was riding in big ones helping land surveyors at his father's civil engineering firm. Stoeppelwerth, now 51 and CEO of Stoeppelwerth & Associates, grew up learning the business. In fact, Stoeppelwerth had done enough surveying during grade school and high school that at age 16 he became a crew chief working under his father, Dick, who started the north-side company in 1962. He joined the company full time after...
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Law could generate earnings for Cummins: States face deadline in completing standards for connecting generators to gridRestricted Content

August 22, 2005
Chris O\'malley
Cummins Inc. and other makers of electric generators stand to gain under a provision an Indiana lawmaker plugged into the federal energy bill signed this month. The amendment by 4th District Republican congressman Steve Buyer forces state utility commissions to adopt standards within two years that will pave the way for businesses that generate their own electricity to sell excess power to the electric grid. That's good news for firms that generate their own power and for Cummins, which makes...
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Deal giving edge to unions muddies midfield contracts: Non-union contractors question whether bidding on project is worth the troubleRestricted Content

August 15, 2005
Chris O\'malley
A construction agreement that requires union wages, work rules-and union workers-at the midfield terminal project has big and small businesses alike concerned they'll be shut out of all but the tiniest contracts on the $300 million building. Unless Janet South's painting firm Deco Group agrees to accept those terms, she'd only qualify for projects of $75,000 or less-the threshold at which the agreement kicks in. That limitation, contained in the project labor agreement attached to the midfield terminal, contrasts with...
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VIEWPOINT: Signs of economic recovery all around usRestricted Content

August 15, 2005
Barbara Branic
After weathering some difficult times over the last few years, there are encouraging signs that central Indiana has turned the corner on its road to economic recovery. The Indianapolis metro area added 22,000 jobs in the year ending in March-a 2.4-percent increase-and in May, the Indiana unemployment rate dipped below the national average for the first time since December. All signs point to continued modest growth. Patrick Barkey, IBJ contributor and Ball State University economist, says, "We should expect to...
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Group wants energy czar: Coalition believes utilities slow to climb on efficiency bandwagonRestricted Content

August 15, 2005
Chris O\'malley
Chris Maher's crews at Thermo-Scan Inc. have been plenty busy inspecting for drafts and puny insulation in many of the 14,000 new homes built each year in the metro area. Even so, the principal at the Carmel firm can't help wonder about the vast potential to make the hundreds of thousands of existing homes and businesses more energy efficient-if only homeowners had a little more incentive. Utility companies, he says, have relatively few dollars budgeted to coax customers to install...
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Past retail failures in China don't scare Simon away: Developer's partnership with Wal-Mart could be keyRestricted Content

August 15, 2005
Scott Olson
Executives of Simon Property Group Inc. are confident the shopping mall owner's foray into China will prove successful, even though they acknowledge others have failed there. In a conference call with analysts late last month, the locally based real estate investment trust announced its plan to be the first American company to develop retailing projects in the communist country. Its first project will be a 500,000-squarefoot mall at Hangzhou, a city of 6 million people about two hours from Shanghai....
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Indiana's 2 economies: Indy and everyone elseRestricted Content

August 15, 2005
Patrick Barkey
I work for a state university. That's an important reason why I try to keep up to date on what is happening in the state economy. That involves tracking what's going on with things like job growth, unemployment rates, and earnings across the state. I also try to judge how the state's economy is performing against other states, particularly those in the Midwest. That's convenient, but it's also a little misleading. Because for quite some time there really have been...
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GERALD BEPKO Commentary: State's bulk-sales law should be repealedRestricted Content

August 8, 2005
Law is an important part of the infrastructure for our economy. It can be just as important as highspeed information networks, transportation systems or capital formation. And like all infrastructure, law has to be modernized to take account of changing conditions. Although much law regarding commerce comes from Congress, the states have an important role through something called the Uniform Commercial Code. The UCC reflects the best contemporary thought and is uniform in that it has been enacted in all...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Growth of GDP better than might first appearRestricted Content

August 8, 2005
Patrick Barkey
What happens when the world's largest economy continues to grow at a faster rate than that of any other industrialized nation? The answer is, a tremendous amount of wealth is created. That's the real reason investment dollars and boatloads of consumer goods continue to land on our shores from abroad every day. Compared to the tepid growth in the rest of the other mature economies around the globe, we are still the best game to be found. That's a more...
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