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New Fed chair's 'dashboard' of job-market gauges PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer   
Thursday, 20 March 2014 06:21

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve on Wednesday downplayed the unemployment rate as a guide to the U.S. economy's health. But Janet Yellen, the new Fed chair, didn't leave investors in the dark.

Instead, she listed five gauges that make up her "dashboard" for tracking the economy. She also specified, in some cases, when those measures would signal a healthy economy.

The issue arose because Fed policymakers, like many economists, worry that the unemployment rate might be overstating the health of the economy. The rate has fallen by a full percentage point in the past year. But much of the drop occurred because fewer Americans are working or looking for work. The government doesn't count people as unemployed unless they're actively searching for jobs.

For those who want to track the economy along with Yellen, here are the items she listed during a news conference Wednesday, her first as Fed chair:

— THE U-6:

It might sound like the name of an Irish rock band. But it's a broader measure of the job market. It includes not only the unemployed but also those working part time who would prefer full-time work and those who have stopped searching for jobs. Last month, the U-6 rate was 12.6 percent, much higher than the unemployment rate of 6.7 percent. Yellen said the number of Americans forced to work part time is "unusually large." It suggests that she believes the Fed could do more to boost the economy.

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Report says California targeted by cyber-gangs PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DON THOMPSON, Associated Press   
Thursday, 20 March 2014 06:00

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — International criminal enterprises follow the money, and a report being released Thursday says they are increasingly focusing on California because of its wealth and innovation.

Aside from long-time trafficking in drugs, guns and people, the report by California Attorney General Kamala Harris says criminals are turning to cybercrime to target businesses and financial institutions.

It calls California the top target in the U.S. for organizations that often operate from safe havens in Eastern Europe, Africa and China.

"California is a global leader on a number of fronts and, unfortunately, transnational criminal activity is one of them," the report states.

Harris said it is the first comprehensive report to outline the effects international criminal organizations are having on Californians and businesses in the state. She is set to formally release the 181-page report during a late-morning news conference with other law enforcement officials in Los Angeles, but an early copy was provided to The Associated Press.

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Chinese breeder sells two Tibetan mastiffs for $3 million PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Thursday, 20 March 2014 06:17

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese dog breeder said Thursday that a property developer paid him 18 million yuan ($3 million) for Tibetan mastiff twins, highlighting how the breed has become a status symbol for China's rich.

The large, slobbery dog with massive amounts of hair used to be best known for herding sheep in Tibet, but has now become a luxury for the ultra-rich who want to spread their wealth beyond stocks and real estate.

Breeder Zhang Gengyun said he sold the 1-year-old twin male dogs to a single buyer at a luxury dog fair Tuesday in wealthy Zhejiang province, located on China's east coast. The sales were reported by the local Qianjiang Evening News.

One of the twins — a golden-haired Tibetan mastiff — was sold for $12 million yuan, and his red-haired brother went for $6 million yuan.

Zhang said the buyer, from eastern Shandong province, paid him the 18 million yuan with his credit card.

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Toyota payment could be glimpse into GM's future PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer   
Thursday, 20 March 2014 05:59

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors, beware.

Wednesday's announcement that Toyota will pay $1.2 billion to avoid criminal prosecution for hiding information in a recall case could be a glimpse into your future. It's also a warning to anyone selling cars in the U.S.: Although the federal government's road-safety watchdog doesn't have big fangs, the Justice Department does.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's maximum fine for hiding information is $35 million, a pittance to automakers. But the Justice Department can reach deeper into your wallet and hurt your reputation with damning public statements.

Shortly after the announcement, Attorney General Eric Holder issued an apparent warning to GM and other automakers, saying the Toyota deal was "not necessarily the only time we will use this approach."

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