Archive for December, 2011|Monthly archive page

College football gets richer

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Penn State's woes won't cut college football dollars

Revenues and profits at Penn State football is about to take a hit due to the scandal there, but overall big time college football is only likely to get richer.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Penn State likely will be playing before more empty seats than full ones when it takes the field for its bowl game on Monday — just one sign of tougher financial times ahead for one of the nation’s richest teams.

But big-time college football is likely to only get richer.

Penn State was No. 6 in revenue among college football teams last season, $72.7 million. And it was No. 2 in profit, behind only the University of Texas, with $53.2 million.

But following the child abuse scandal and the firing of iconic coach Joe Paterno, experts said the school could expect to lose millions in sponsorship, ticket and merchandise sales in coming years. Donations from alumni could also be hurt. Moody’s put Penn State’s debt rating under review for possible downgrade.

The first hit to Penn State’s bottom line could come Monday with its appearance in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas.

Penn State ended up in the game after some late season losses killed its chance of getting into one of the big dollar BCS bowls, and other higher-profile bowl spots reserved for Big 10 schools went to other teams.

Missing out on the bigger bowls won’t hurt revenue too much, since the conference shares bowl money pretty much equally among the schools. But in going to a lower-profile bowl game far from home, Penn State was only able to sell about 4,000 of the 6,000 tickets it was allocated for the game, and will have to eat the rest.

Tom Starr, executive director of the bowl, said he doesn’t think that the scandal hurt as much as the overall economy, adding that bowl game ticket sales are down nationwide.

“Fans don’t have the money to travel to see a game,” he said Friday. “And where we also are getting hurt is midlevel corporate sales.”

But the bowls aren’t the major source of revenue for the 122 teams in the Football Bowl Division. Instead the main dollars come from television rights, and revenue from sponsorships, ticket sales and licensed merchandise.

An analysis by CNNMoney of figures filed by the schools with the Department of Education shows that revenue for the major football programs in the 2010-11 school year was up 5% to $2.7 billion.

Profit growth was a more modest 2%, but that still came to $1.1 billion in profits, for a 41% margin that any pro sports team would kill to have.

Revenue and profits should only grow as the big dollar conferences play a game of musical chairs to grab new schools. When the dust of the reorganization finally settles, the moves are expected to bring in even more revenue, especially from television deals.

Dan Fulks, a professor at Kentucky’s Transylvania University who consults for the NCAA, said the additional money isn’t going to flow evenly to all schools. It will mean that most of the major football programs are only going to get richer.

“It’ll widen the gap between the haves and havenots,” he said. “The new TV money is certainly going to help, but it’s going to help Ohio State, not Bowling Green.” To top of page

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Weekly Address: Working Together in the New Year

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm

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Kelly Clarkson sales spike after Ron Paul endorsement

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2011 at 10:28 am

One day after she announced her support for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul on Twitter, sales of pop singer Kelly Clarkson's most recent album were surging Friday on

Kelly Clarkson said on Twitter Thursday that Ron Paul had her vote in the Republican primary.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — A word of advice to prospective American Idol contestants: vote libertarian.

One day after she announced her support for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul on Twitter, sales of pop singer Kelly Clarkson’s most recent album were surging Friday on

Sales of Clarkson’s album Stronger shot up 442% between Thursday and Friday afternoon on Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500), moving the album from #38 to #7 on Amazon’s sales list.

While there’s no way to tell whether her support for Paul was the only reason for this jump, the endorsement clearly made a difference for some fans.

“I must admit I have not really followed you but your recent stance on Ron Paul made me check you out,” one fan wrote Friday in a review of the album on Amazon. “If you are smart enough to support Ron Paul then you are probably talented too.”

“JUST DISCOVERED YOU…BECAUSE OF RON PAUL!” another wrote. “The energy of these songs would be great as Ron Paul event background music.”

On Thursday, Clarkson wrote on Twitter that if the libertarian candidate “wins the nomination for the Republican party in 2012 he’s got my vote.”

“I love Ron Paul. I liked him a lot during the last republican nomination and no one gave him a chance,” she wrote in an extended tweet.

Although she identified herself as a Republican, the former American Idol champ said she “voted Democrat last election.” And this go-round, “Out of all of the Republican nominees, he’s my favorite,” she said.

The Paul campaign thanked Clarkson for her “kind words” in a tweet on Thursday.

News of Clarkson’s Amazon sales was picked up Friday by the Hollywood Reporter. Her album sat at #39 on the Billboard album charts as of Friday afternoon, though it was up to #13 on Apple’s iTunes charts.

CNN’s Political Unit contributed to this report. To top of page

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Improving Affordable Housing Delivery Across Federal Agencies

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2011 at 4:26 am

Today, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development released the report “Federal Rental Alignment: Administrative Proposals” which lays out a broad vision for improving the delivery and operation of affordable housing across the country. The initiatives in this report – many of which are already being implemented – will streamline federal housing requirements to support more efficient delivery of affordable housing, and help state and federal agencies’ staff to better serve low-income families who rent their homes. The Administration’s goal is to make government work better by reducing the unintended consequences associated with the reality of housing finance today – multiple overlapping public investments on a given rental property. 

The report includes ten initiatives proposed by the Rental Policy Working Group that will more efficiently align rental programs across government agencies, including inspections, financial reporting, appraisals, energy efficiency standards, and fair housing compliance enforcement, among others. And every one of these improvements can be done without legislation or new funding, through a combination of education, outreach, issuing Agency guidance, and rule changes.

This effort dates back to 2010 when the White House Domestic Policy Council created the interagency Rental Policy Working Group (RPWG) with the Departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and the Treasury. The RPWG convened several conferences at the White House with local and state housing agencies and property owners and developers to discuss best practices in affordable housing delivery.
As we begin implementation of these initiatives, we look forward to sharing our progress with you and hope you will keep in touch with our efforts through the Domestic Policy Council Urban Affairs blog  and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s site

Derek Douglas is a Special Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council

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Intern Picks: Must-See White House Videos of 2011

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2011 at 4:26 am

Intern Picks: Must-See White House Videos of 2011

All week, we’ve been sharing some highlights from 2011. Now it’s time for another special list.  

After much debate, the interns in the White House Office of Digital Strategy have decided on their 10 must-see videos of 2011. These funny, memorable, inspirational—and even quirky—videos highlight the best behind-the-scenes moments at the White House and feature sensational musical performances, holiday preparations, civil rights leaders, impressive young Americans, and more.

Take a closer look inside the White House and see the behind-the-scenes footage that you don’t want to miss.  For even more White House videos from 2011 and years past , visit

10. Smart Youngsters Saving the World: Google Science Fair

This October, President Obama welcomed the winners of the first-ever Google Global Science Fair to the White House. Hear the stories of the three remarkable, young, American women who swept the awards and find out what the journey to success has been like.

Don’t Miss: Cancer research, air quality control, and chicken marinades…unlocking scientific discoveries at the age of 14!

9. The First Lady Rocks to Beyonce

In May, First Lady Michelle Obama made a surprise visit to Alice Deal Middle School to join students in a Lets Move! Flash Workout. More than 600 schools across the country participated in similar workouts at the same time.

Don’t Miss: A special tribute to Beyonce’s dance moves from our very own First Lady, Michelle Obama. 


8. An Inside Look at the White House Movie Theater

In honor of African-American history month this past February, the White House hosted a screening of ”Thurgood”—a one-act play starring Laurence Fishburne and written by George Stevens, Jr. Go inside the screening to watch interviews and learn more about the impact of Justice Marshall’s work supporting equal rights in America.

Don’t miss: It’s not every day the White House movie theater is jammed packed with our favorite stars – see who’s there!

7. Lions, and Tigers, and Spiderman, Oh My! 

Don’t Miss: Trick-or-treating at the White House—what better treat than that? Find out what’s in the goodie bag.

6. The Volunteers Behind the White House Decorations

Go inside the White House and the Naval Observatory, the official residence for the Vice President, for the 2011 holiday season as we honor military families and their service to our nation

Don’t Miss: Didn’t get to visit the White House over the holidays? Then check out this room-by-room, behind-the-scenes look at the White House all decked out.

5. Meet the Kennedy Center Honorees

The 2011 Kennedy Center Honors were bestowed on five giants from the world of the arts—not just for a single role or a certain performance, but for a lifetime of greatness. The recipients—Yo Yo Ma, Meryl Streep, Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond and Sonny Rollins—were honored at the White House in early December.

 Don’t Miss: Find out who is stealing the White House bathroom towels…

 4. Ruby Bridges: “Standing Shoulder to Shoulder with History” 

Civil Rights icon Ruby Bridges visited the White House to see how a painting commemorating her personal and historic milestone looks hanging on the wall outside of the Oval Office. American artist Norman Rockwell was criticized by some when this painting first appeared on the cover of Look magazine on January 14,1964; but throughout the summer of 2011, the iconic portrait was on display in one of the most exalted locations in the country.

Don’t Miss: Ruby Bridges reflecting with the President about the painting of herself that hangs in the West Wing.

3.Inside the White House – The State of the Union Address

Watch behind-the-scenes footage and interviews from the making of President Barack Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address. Senior Advisor to the President David Axelrod and Director of Speechwriting Jon Favreau give a rare inside look at the process behind the President’s annual address.

Don’t Miss: What team does the President’s speechwriter root for, and why is he at work still during the AFC championship game?

 2. In Performance at the White House

Go behind the scenes as preparations are underway for this signature White House cultural event. The first, in February, features John Legend during the production of “In Performance at the White House: The Motown Sound.” This celebration brought together recording artists to perform classic Motown hits in the East Room of the White House.

Don’t Miss: See some of Jamie Foxx’s hilarious pre-show dance moves.  

In November, go behind the scenes from rehearsal to showtime for  ”In Performance at the White House: Country Music.”

Don’t Miss: See how James Taylor The Band Perry, Dirks Bentley, Alison Krauss and other country greats warm up before they go on stage.

1. The President’s Speech

At the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in April, President Obama joked about a sequel to the film “The King’s Speech” that hits closer to home. The President offered a sneak peak of the parody at the annual event.

Don’t Miss: This video needs no explanation. See for yourself why it has almost 500,000 views

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More Than 1.9 Million Records Released

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2011 at 4:26 am

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Dow’s biggest losers and winners

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Dow 30

Click the chart to see how the rest of the Dow components fared this year.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — When investors look at the change in McDonald’s share price last year, they can think only one thing: “I’m lovin’ it.”

The fast food giant was the best performer on the Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) in 2011, up 31%. That was enough to beat out Warren Buffett’s newest favorite, IBM (IBM, Fortune 500), No. 2 among the blue chip winners.

At the other end of the spectrum was Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), which suffered a 59% plunge to lows not seen since 2009. That slump gave it an easy win over Alcoa (AA, Fortune 500), whose shares lost 44%, in the competition for dubious distinction of ‘biggest loser.’

But those troubled giants were the exception among Dow stocks in 2011.

Overall, the index is up 6% going into 2011′s last day of trading, outpacing the performance of not just the SP 500 (SPX), up only 0.4%, but also the tech-heavy Nasdaq (COMP) and the broader Wilshire 5000 (W5000FLT), which are both slightly lower for the year.

And of the 30 Dow components, 19 are in positive territory for the year.

Fortune 500: Worst performers of 2011

McDonald’s (MCD, Fortune 500) has been helped by strong sales both domestically and globally. Shares hit an all-time high of $100.82 this week before settling back a bit to close Thursday at $100.81.

Meanwhile, No. 2 IBM had already achieved its run up by the time Buffett disclosed in November that Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500) had purchased a 5% stake in the company. Its shares are down slightly since then but still managed a 27% gain for the year.

Buffett didn’t do as well when he threw Bank of America a $5 billion lifeline, buying preferred shares of the troubled bank in a deal announced in August. Since then, the bank’s stock has continued to slide, putting the investment in the red, even with the $300 million in annual dividends that Berkshire will pocket.

Bank of America has also been shrinking, announcing plans to shed 30,000 employees and close branches, and losing its title of the nation’s largest bank to rival JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) in the third quarter. It was also forced to reverse course and drop a $5-a-month debit card fee after strong customer backlash.

In comparison to Bank of America’s high profile problems, aluminum maker Alcoa’s stock suffered a relatively quiet slide, as concerns about a looming recession in Europe and a possible slowdown in Chinese production hammered pricing and profits.

The company’s third-quarter earnings miss added to its disappointing share performance. To top of page

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Stocks set for 2011′s finish

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2011 at 10:19 pm


Click chart for more premarket data.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. stocks were set to open slightly higher Friday, the final trading day of 2011, as investors bid farewell to an otherwise volatile year.

Dow Jones industrial average (INDU), SP 500 (SPX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures were all slightly higher ahead of the opening bell. Stock futures indicate the possible direction of the markets when they open at 9:30 a.m. ET.

U.S. stocks rose Thursday in a thinly traded session as investors focused on signs of strength in the economy before calling it a year.

Thursday’s rebound put the SP 500 back on track for a modest 0.4% gain in 2011, after the broad market index fell sharply Wednesday. The Dow is currently up 6.1% for the year, while the Nasdaq is set for a 1.5% loss.

If stocks manage to end 2011 higher, it will mark the third straight year of gains for the major indexes.

Meanwhile, the main reason the Dow is faring better than the SP this year is simply because it carries fewer financial stocks. Of the 30 components on the Dow, only four are financial — Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), Travelers (TRV, Fortune 500) and American Exprss (AXP, Fortune 500).

Compare that the SP 500, which has 36 financial-related stocks, including major banks Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) and Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), along with troubled insurer AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) and Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500).

Dow’s biggest winner: Think burgers and fries

Friday is shaping up to be a quiet day as many investors have already closed their books for the year.

Traders said low volume, typical of the holiday week, has led to more pronounced swings this week, with some of the moves coming from year-end portfolio rebalancing rather than convictions over the trajectory of the market or particular stocks.

Investors will be happy to put 2011 to bed. The markets had a choppy year to say the least. From Japan’s devastating earthquake to Europe’s worsening debt crisis to the ongoing bickering in Washington, stocks experienced some violent swings so it’s little wonder that investors are hoping for a quiet end to the year.

Economy: A reading on December data showed Chinese manufacturing continued to slow. HSBC’s early reading of its China purchasing managers index saw a 1-point increase to 48.7, but that figure remains below to 50 threshold for expansion of the sector.

Companies: Shares of American Airlines parent AMR Corp. (AMR, Fortune 500) plunged 39% following news that the company was being delisted from the NYSE as of Jan. 5.

The delisting is occurring because AMR’s share price failed to average $1 over the past 30 days — the minimum requirement set by the NYSE for listed stocks.

Merger 2012: The year of the hostile takeover

Shares of Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) extended the previous days gains, risising 1.6%, following reports that China’s Alibaba Group had hired a lobbying firm to prepare a bid for the U.S. web search pioneer.

World markets: European stocks were mixed in morning trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 (UKX) fell 0.3%, Germany’s DAX (DAX) edged up 0.2% and France’s CAC 40 (CAC40) slipped 0.1%.

Asian markets ended mostly higher. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) gained 1.2%, the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong edged up 0.2% and Japan’s Nikkei (N225) added 0.7%.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar gained against the euro, but slipped versus the British pound and the Japanese yen.

Oil for February delivery rose 25 cents to $99.91 a barrel.

Gold futures for February delivery added $31.80 to $1,572.70 an ounce. That helped boost shares of gold ETF SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) as well as iShares Silver Trust (SLV).

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was little changed, with the yield holding at 1.90%.  To top of page

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Charities get last-minute boost from donors

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Holiday Money: Charitable donations spike in final days

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Chalk it up to the holiday spirit — or just smart tax planning — but charitable giving is looking up this month.

Giving in December is already up 15% from 2010, according to the latest tally by Network for Good, a site that enables donors to contribute to more than 10,000 charities across the country. In November, donations rose 20% over the same month last year.

“This year looks a little better, but not back to pre-recession levels yet,” said Katya Andresen, Network for Good’s chief strategy officer.

But the best is yet to come. While one-third of all online giving for the year occurs in December, a whopping 22% happens in the last two days of the year, according to Network for Good’s online giving study. That end-of-year rush can mainly be attributed to donors looking for some last-minute tax savings.

“It’s traditional to think about charity in December and of course, it’s the end of the tax year,” Andresen said.

Still, with less than 48 hours left in the calendar year, it’s unlikely this will be a substantially better year for charities after three years in a row of lackluster giving.

Largest donations of 2011

After sinking in 2008 and 2009, donations still lag far behind pre-recession levels. Total charitable contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations increased slightly in 2010 to $290.9 billion — but remained below 2007′s $310.6 billion, according to Giving USA, a foundation that tracks charitable contributions.

Although Geoffrey Brown, executive director of the organization, says it’s still too early to say how 2011 will fare in comparison to last year, “giving is probably going to be flat, if anything,” he noted.

Stagnant wage growth, high unemployment, Europe’s debt crisis and uncertainty about the economy have weighed on donors, while the government has drawn down support substantially, explained Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy.

“This year was a little better than last year, but, of course, last year wasn’t so good,” he said.

In a survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, 54% of 152 organizations said they raised more money in November and during the first part of December than they had at the same time last year. Nearly 60% of charities predicted they would have an overall gain in donations in 2011, while 28% said donations would fall this year.

“This was a year in which there were certainly disasters both at home and abroad, but not at the scale that we have seen in the past,” explained Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

“Even Japan giving was small, it was nothing like the crisis in Haiti,” she said referring to the earthquake and tsunami that rocked the Asian nation in March. To top of page

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Chinese manufacturing slows in December

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Workers inspect motherboards on a factory line at the Foxconn plant in Shenzen. An HSBC report released Friday showed China’s manufacturing sector slowed more than initially reported in December.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — China’s manufacturing sector performed weaker than initially thought in December, according to a survey compiled by HSBC.

HSBC revised its China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index down to 48.7 in December. That’s down from an initial estimate of 49, reported by HSBC two weeks ago.

G-20 nations at a glance

HSBC compiles the index after surveying executives at more than 400 manufacturing companies, and a number below 50 indicates the sector is contracting.

December’s results showed a “modest deterioration in business conditions,” the report said Friday.

The world’s second largest economy, China is being hit by weaker demand from Europe, as well as local government efforts to tame the country’s real estate boom. Curbing high inflation had previously been their number one priority, but now, amid weaker economic numbers, the country’s top leaders are starting to shift their focus to stabilizing growth.

China shifts gears from inflation to growth

“While the pace of slowdown is stabilizing somewhat, weakening external demand is starting to bite,” Hongbin Qu, HSBC’s chief China economist, said in the report. “This, plus the ongoing property market corrections, adds to calls for more aggressive action on both fiscal and monetary fronts to stabilize growth and jobs, especially with prices easing rapidly.”

According to the HSBC numbers, December’s manufacturing slowdown was not quite as severe as in November, when the index fell to 47.7, its lowest level since March 2009.

The Chinese government also compiles its own official PMI index to measure the strength of the manufacturing sector. That report is scheduled to be released next week.  To top of page

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