Economy

Credit card bill moves to Senate

Legislation that would remedy much of the credit card industry’s consumer abuses is closer to reality. It was approved by the House last week and now is before the Senate. As mentioned earlier in this space, it would eliminate abrupt, huge increases in interest rates and prevent other tactics that consumer advocates have called for. It’s about time. For too long, credit card agreements, filled with wide rivers of microscopic, self-serving type have allowed card issuers ...

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Topics for coming webinars

Well over 100 owner-operators turned out Wednesday evening for Overdrive’s first webinar. Kevin Rutherford, our Dollars & Sense columnist and the host of ATBS Trucking Business & Beyond on Sirius XM, had a lot to say about “Surviving a difficult economy.” The overall reviews were overwhelmingly positive, and that’s saying a lot, coming from a group that doesn’t mind sounding off about anything that rubs them the wrong way.   Listeners viewing the free web presentation also ...

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Landstar rides out the storm

When the economy’s in a tailspin, some observers like to speculate that the owner-operator is about to become an endangered species. Indeed, many contractors have fallen out in recent months, but there’s no doubt about the potential for good operators to make money. The biggest owner-operator fleet, Landstar Systems, recently announced it earned $14 million in the first quarter. Granted, that’s 41 percent less than a year ago, due to decreased revenue in a serious ...

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Diesel: Cheaper than gasoline?

If you’re still smarting over last year’s outrageous diesel prices, you can take a little comfort in a prediction from the U.S. Department of Energy. The feds forecast diesel will average $2.19 over 2009, and $2.51 in 2010. “The expected continuing decline in diesel fuel consumption in the United States this year as well as the growing weakness in distillate fuel usage outside the United States are projected to result in a narrowing of refining ...

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Hurray for homebuilding, retail and manufacturing

  Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press this week notes that five key economic areas show potential early signs of a turnaround, in spite of continuing signs of worsening problems.   Three of the five directly impact trucking: new homes, retail sales and durable goods. Each also was accompanied with a “reality check” reminding readers of the ongoing bad news, of which there is no shortage. The other two areas were existing home sales and Wall Street.   Looking ...

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Schneider raises the bar on applicants

 Schneider National is taking a variety of measures, some different than their competitors’, to cope with the downturn. Last week at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., the VP for driver recruiting, Michael Hinz, reviewed Schneider's latest developments with me and Linda Longton, the editorial chief for all our magazines here at Randall Reilly Publishing. One big change is closing the door on inexperienced drivers, Hinz said. Unless you have six months’ fairly recent driving ...

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Economic news not all bad

Following are items that came our way in the last several days. Hey, it’s not all gloom and doom. Of the four, two anticipate positive change in trucking:   The current glut of trucking capacity won’t last too long, says Chief Economist Bob Costello of the American Trucking Associations. He notes that thousands of fleets have gone belly-up, those truckload carriers that are surviving have been downsizing for a few years, and the driver shortage will return ...

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Bright spots few and far between

  There’s plenty of bad news from the economy-watchers at the Institute of Supply Management. As the headline for the February roundup of manufacturing stats says: “New Orders, Production, Employment and Inventories Contracting.”   No surprise there. So for what it’s worth, here are a few shiny needles among the haystack:   Factory output is still shrinking, but not as fast as in January. “ISM's Production Index registered 36.3 percent in February, which is an increase of 4.2 ...

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Following the billions

  You’ve heard reports about the diverse types of projects that the federal bailouts are funding, in some cases how few jobs they will create, and how some of the expenditures are scheduled to take place years after the economy is likely to have rebounded.   Two websites can help you track this fiscal free-for-all. They’re both called “Stimulus Watch,” but are quite different.   The most publicized one is Stimulus Watch, which lists many proposed projects that could become ...

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For the newly jobless, driving never looked so good

Recent trucking news has reported the reversal of the driver shortage, which had appeared to be, as Jesus said of the poor, with us forever. Friday’s Wall Street Journal highlights how the competition for drivers is worse than ever partly because of people recently unemployed from car plants or construction and desperate for a paycheck.   At Prime Inc., even white collar workers are knocking on the door, a recruiting director told the Journal. The company ...

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