(WisBusiness) FRI News Summary — 16 Jan. 2009

From WisBusiness.com …

— During an appearance on CNBC this morning, Gov. Jim Doyle hailed a fed stimulus plan from House Dems.

Doyle, appearing with the Republican governors of Vermont and North Dakota, said the House plan helps states preserve education funding. “We really have to make sure we maintain good schools,” Doyle said. “I think the plan from the House of Representatives really moves in the right direction.”

The inclusion of education-focused funding was important, Doyle said, because “a second-grader can’t say, ‘I’m going to come back and do second grade when the economy improves.'”

Doyle had to talk on the phone because the cold prevented a good satellite hook-up with CNBC, the network said. Noting that it was 20 below in Madison this morning, the governor said: “Our economy has really felt like that.”

He said just about “every other day” brings news from major employers about cuts, expansion delays or layoffs. “It’s a very hard time,” he said.

The House released a draft of the proposal Thursday.

Read a summary: http://appropriations.house.gov/pdf/PressSummary01-15-09.pdf

— The president and CEO of Chicago’s Federal Reserve Bank on Thursday painted a gloomy economic picture for the next 18 months, saying Wisconsin, the Midwest and the nation will have “a lot to weather” especially on the manufacturing front.

Charles Evans told a business audience that the forecasts and economic statistics were “sobering,” comparing the current recession to the deep one of the early 1980s. Evans said the country is in for a “protracted period of poor economic performance” and said the Fed is using all its tools to mitigate the effects of a downturn.

While deflation is a concern with some now, the huge amount of liquidity poured into the financial system may someday pose the opposite problem — hyperinflation. “It’s what Milton Friedman taught, and I believe,” he said of the economists monetary theories.

“There’s a tremendous balancing act,” he added, noting the Fed’s balance sheet has tripled from roughly $800 billion to $2.5 trillion. But he said he didn’t “currently see much risk of an outright deflationary episode.”

The fourth annual Wisconsin Economic Forecast Luncheon was presented by the Wisconsin Bankers Association and the Wisconsin Realtors Association, with support from several sponsors, including WisBusiness.com . The program drew a record crowd of more than 500, said organizers, owing robust attendance to two top speakers and the recession.

See more on the luncheon: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=145907

— Gov. Jim Doyle preceded Evans and touted the opportunities of a coming stimulus package that he said could help thaw an economic winter and usher in spring.

This economy is frozen, Doyle told the luncheon. The challenge is to ensure the state is in a good position to recover when it heats back up, he said.

“We know spring is coming. And we know the thaw will be there,” Doyle said. “Our job is to try to see that we can bring spring here a little quicker than it otherwise might come.”

Listen to Doyle’s address: http://wispolitics.com/1006/090115DoyleWBA.mp3

In a new survey, state bankers say low interest rates will spur a modest uptick in new and refinanced residential mortgages during the first six months of 2009. But overall, a majority of bankers rate the Wisconsin economy as just “fair” and 90 percent believe conditions are still weakening.

Those results are from the latest edition of the twice-yearly economic conditions survey the Wisconsin Bankers Association conducts of its members.

Respondents see demand for other benchmark lending categories — including commercial loans and real estate development loan — dropping between January and June 2009. And 54 percent of survey respondents say commercial loan demand will drop. Reflecting weakness in the housing sector, 66 percent of bank CEOs say real estate development loan demand will also drop.

About half of bank CEOs report that their institution has tightened lending standards due to regulatory pressure or to preserve capital.

The other half say they haven’t changed lending standards, but also say that fewer businesses qualify for loans as a result of the economic downturn.

— Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton announced that for this spring semester, the Business, Environment and Social Responsibility (BESR) Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business will offer “Sustainability Meets Entrepreneurship,” a Friday forum series designed to provide UW students and members of the community access to experts on clean technology and alternative energy.

See details: http://wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=145921

— In the newest edition of his Fashion Forward column, Mitch Bram answers this question: “A lot of things are on sale now … if somebody were to buy a business wardrobe from scratch and had $1,500 to spend, how would you suggest that they do it?”  

Read his answers: http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=211



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Press Releases
UW-Madison: Global health certificate programs celebrates first graduates, welcomes new students
· UW-Stout: Students organize 30th annual DECA conference

For these and more releases visit http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82


Metso Corp. among first paper industry cuts of ’09: Metso Corp. will eliminate 70 jobs from its 1,100-member Paper and Fiber technology division in the United States and Canada, including an as yet unknown number at its three facilities in Appleton, Neenah and Beloit. “We don’t have the final list of names yet,” said Jukka Tiitinen, president of Metso Paper USA responding to an announcement Thursday. “I cannot tell which locations (as) they are in the middle of the process.”

M&I Corp. reports $403 million loss : Marshall & Ilsley Corp. posted a fourth-quarter loss and is instituting a cost-reduction plan that includes cutting jobs. The Milwaukee-based firm, which operates regional banks and investment and financial management firms, lost $403.9 million, or $1.55 per share, during the final quarter of 2008, compared with earnings of $493.9 million, or $1.83 per share, during the same quarter last year.

Report: Smurfit-Stone considers bankruptcy: Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., a packaging products manufacturer with multiple operations in the Milwaukee area, has hired bankruptcy counsel and financial advisers to line up about $750 million in debtor-in-possession financing, unnamed sources told The Wall Street Journal. A Chapter 11 filing for protection from creditors could come within two weeks, the newspaper reported Thursday, but it’s possible the company could avoid filing.

Miller Lite sales drop 7.5 percent: MillerCoors’ domestic sales to retailers declined 2.3 percent in the three months ended Dec. 31, including a drop of 7.5 percent in Miller Lite volumes, SABMiller plc said Thursday. The volume declines come during a period of weaker beer category volumes and strong pricing, London-based SABMiller said in an interim trading update. SABMiller did not disclose dollar sales figures in the interim report.

Grede Laying Off 140 Workers In Reedsburg:
The auto-part maker in Reedsburg said Thursday it will cut two shifts on Jan. 19, displacing 140 workers. A fixture in Reedsburg since the 1950s, Grede Foundries makes automobile parts for various U.S. and foreign automakers. The company previously cut about 100 jobs in 2008. Reedsburg officials said the cuts will surely take a toll on the small community and the surrounding area. “There’s a trickle-down effect. If those workers don’t spend money and cut back, then this whole area is going to be hurting drastically,” said John Dougherty, Reedsburg’s city administrator.


GREGG HOFFMANN: Contributor, WisBusiness.com

TOM STILL: President, Wisconsin Technology Council

JENNIFER SERENO: Senior manager, Wood Communications Group

STEVE JAGLER: Executive editor, Small Business Times

TOM BURZINSKI: IT executive and consultant

ECONOMY (back to top)
– Politics, business linked by recession

– Beer sales falling with economy

– Marketing creates buzz for downtown Waukesha

– Area car sales hit the brakes

MANUFACTURING (back to top)
– Briggs & Stratton 2Q profit falls on tough comps

– Spancrete founder Nagy dies at 100

LABOR (back to top)
– Fed official expects unemployment rate to rise into mid-2010

SMALL BUSINESS (back to top)
– Venture Center at Fox Valley Technical College session focuses on business startups

– Bader Rutter bucks trends, posts gains

REAL ESTATE (back to top)
– Cautious optimism prevails at Home Expo

– Legendary developer Trammell Crow dies

– Boelter+Lincoln moving to 3rd Ward

– RealtyTrac: Wisconsin foreclosures soared 62% in ‘08

– Changes proposed to lure developers to Park East lots

– Forecasters see realty rebound in Milwaukee area

AGRIBUSINESS (back to top)
– WPA Urges Continued Support for Discovery Farms Program

– Cross Country: It’s tough to be a farmer if you don’t understand high-tech

TRANSPORTATION (back to top)
– Airport project gets off ground

– AAA will close Downtown office

RETAIL (back to top)
– Titletown Oil adds Grand Central Station

UTILITIES (back to top)
– Charter subsidiaries miss interest payments

– Stark Investments unit embarks on Texas gas storage project

– PSC calls for further study of wind turbines on Lake Michigan

– State’s Focus on Energy program honored

HEALTH CARE (back to top)
– ThedaCare completes $23 million renovation

– Tax plan won’t help all hospitals, review finds

– GE Healthcare to merge Milwaukee-area units, shut down Madison facility

MANAGEMENT (back to top)
– Forty under 40 winners named by Business Journal

Media Partners
Small Business Times
Madison Magazine

National Business Roundups ( back to top)
–YAHOO FINANCE: http://finance.yahoo.com/
–CNBC BUSINESS NEWS: http://www.cnbc.com
–ABC BUSINESS NEWS: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/
–GOOGLE NEWS: http://news.google.com/news/en/us/business.html

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