Economy & Business

Business news

Billionaire investment legend Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has had its credit rating lowered from AA+ to AA by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.

In a statement, S&P says that even though Berkshire Hathaway has an "excellent business profile," the lower credit rating "better reflects our view of BRK's dependence on its core insurance operations for most of its dividend income." (S&P's statement is posted on its website, but you have to register to view it.)

Thursday morning's economic news:

-- There were 360,000 first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, up 32,000 from the week before, the Employment and Training Administration says. At 360,000, the pace was the fastest since the last week of March. But it remained well below the 400,000-and-higher rate that lasted from mid-2008 into 2011.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Yen's Drop In Value Could Fuel Curency War

May 16, 2013

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Japan's economy is finally getting a lift. The stock market is soaring there. Companies like Toyota and Sony are seeing a surge in profits. And today, Japan's government reported the economy grew a three-and-a-half percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, a significant improvement.

Across the country, cash-strapped state and local governments are not just cutting services — they're also cutting access to courts. The tip of the iceberg may be small claims courts.

These courts, dealing with disputes involving small sums of money, are the workhorses of the judicial system. There are thousands of such courts across the country, but perhaps nowhere are they being cut more dramatically than in California.

Caterpillar and its South Milwaukee Union are engaged in tough talks.

Last week, the United Steelworkers Local 1343 voted down a contract that called for allowing the company to temporarily close the plant if needed during downturns, along with wage freezes.

Where are you from?  Ask that to the next person you meet on the street in Milwaukee, and they’ll probably look at you funny.  So, instead, take our word for it – the answer is probably someplace local.

Writer and Lake Effect essayist Avi Lank says where we are from says a great deal about where we are going:

Olivu

Napoleon Dynamite included, a lot of us rely on lip balm to keep our mouths moisturized. But it's likely few of us ever thought about making our own product.

One Sheboygan woman has given more than lip service to the importance of pampered puckering. Caitlin Brotz is carving a niche for her homegrown lip balm company, called Olivu 426.

Young professionals are gathering across Milwaukee this week, not only to network, but to also talk about their visions of the city’s future. Organizers of the second annual Young Professionals Week have arranged more than 20 events.

Farm Land
flickr.com/sawmillsergio

Wisconsin may soon allow foreign investors to purchase large parcels of land here. For more than 100 years, the state has limited foreign interests from owning more than 640 acres. However, Governor Walker’s proposed budget removes the cap, including for corporations. The Wisconsin Realtors Association asked for the change, according to spokesman Thomas Larson.

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