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Jan. 28, 2013 at 7:47 PM   |   Comments

Markets hold back Monday

NEW YORK, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. stock indexes were mixed Monday in New York despite strong durable goods gains in December.

After a four-week winning streak, investors say a slowdown is overdue. The durable goods orders report also indicated growth in non-defense capital goods orders, a leading indicator. Markets held back, anyway.

By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 14.05 points or 0.1 percent to 13,881.93.

The Nasdaq composite of tech-oriented stocks gained 4.59 points or 0.15 percent to 3,154.30. The Standard and Poor's 500 index lost 2.78 points or 0.18 percent to 1,500.18.

The 10-year treasury note fell 2/32 to yield 1.962 percent.

Against the dollar, the euro fell to $1.3448 from Friday's $1.3466. The dollar fell to 90.66 yen from Friday's 91.03 yen.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index lost 0.94 percent, 102.34 points, to 10,824.31.

In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.16 percent, 9.96 points, to 6,294.41.


TARP watchdog howls at pay increases

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- A government watchdog said the U.S. Treasury Department signed off on big pay increases at bailout firms in 2012, ignoring taxpayers' interests.

"We expect Treasury to look out for taxpayers who funded the bailout of these companies by holding the line on excessive pay," said Christy Romero, the inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program that was used to bail out the nation's financial industry, as well as select firms, such as General Motors, Chrysler and American Insurance Group Inc.

"Treasury cannot look out for taxpayers' interests if it continues to rely to a great extent on the pay proposed by companies that have historically pushed back on pay limits."

The Washington Post reported Monday the Treasury Department claims it did not break any laws or turn its back on taxpayers as it approved $6.2 million in raises for 18 executives at GM, Ally Financial and AIG in 2012.

The department approved a raise of $1 million for one AIG executive. Another, an executive at AIG's Residential Capital that filed for bankruptcy, was allowed a $200,000 raise in what the inspector general's report said was a raise approval process that deferred to the requests made by the companies and ignored pay increases based on merit, the Post said.

The report also says that 68 of 69 executives at the three companies took home pay packages of $2 million or more.

Combined, the top 16 executives at the companies took home $100 million, The New York Times reported.

"In 2012, these three TARP companies convinced Treasury to roll back its guidelines by approving multimillion-dollar pay packages, high cash salaries, huge pay raises and removing compensation tied to meeting performance metrics," Romer said.

The Treasury Department's acting pay czar, Patricia Geoghegan, said the inspector general's audit includes many inadequacies and faulty conclusions.

Huge compensation packages became a sore point after the financial crisis of 2008 and throughout the subsequent bailout of the financial sector. Billions of dollars of taxpayer funds were used to bail out companies that blundered into and, in some ways, created the financial crisis.

Symbolic of the compensation controversy, AIG was severely criticized for awarding $168 million in bonus pay in 2009 to employees of the division that sustained huge losses in the market, destabilizing the insurance giant and putting the financial system at risk.

Kenneth Feinberg was appointed to serve as the department's so-called pay czar to monitor excessive pay at bailed-out firms. His strategy was to limit cash salaries to $500,000 and force companies to award deferred shares to make up the difference.

Feinberg stepped down in 2010. In 2012, the report says, Geoghegan allowed 23 exceptions to Feinberg's guidelines, four times the number of exceptions allowed in 2009.


Parents paying tuition linked to lower GPA

MERCED, Calif., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. college students who get their education paid for by parents may not study as hard, but they have better odds of graduating, a researcher says.

Laura T. Hamilton, a sociology professor at the University of California, Merced, found students' GPAs decreased with increased financial support from their parents.

However, the study also found students with financial aid from their parents were more likely to complete college and earn a degree.

"Students with parental support are best described as staying out of serious academic trouble, but dialing down their academic efforts," Hamilton wrote in the study.

Over the past several decades, colleges and universities have responded to deep cuts in external funding by increasing tuition and these costs increasingly fall on the shoulders of U.S. parents.

The study, scheduled to be published in the February issue of the American Sociological Review, found parental aid increased the odds of graduating within five years, but students with no parental aid in their first year of college had a 56.4 percent predicted probability of graduating, compared with 65.2 percent for students who received $12,000 in aid from their parents.

"Regardless of class background, the toll parental aid takes on GPA is modest," Hamilton wrote. "Yet, any reduction in student GPA due to parental aid -- which is typically offered with the best of intentions -- is both surprising and important."

Hamilton said many other funding sources such as grants and scholarships, work-study, student employment, and veteran's benefits did not have negative effects on student GPA.


Canada's wealthy outpacing everyone else

OTTAWA, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The gap between Canada's wealthiest 1 percent and everybody else has been spreading over the past 18 years, Statistics Canada said.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday the median income among Canada's wealthiest 1 percent was $191,600 in 1982, seven times the median income of the bottom 99 percent, which was $28,000.

Eighteen years later, in 2010, the median income among the top 1 percent was $283,400, a 47 percent jump. The median income among everyone else had climbed to $28,400 by 2010, a mere 1.4 percent increase, which made the median income among the top 1 percent 10 times the median income of everyone else.

To be counted among the top 1 percent in Canada in 1982 required an income of $147,500. To be counted in 2010, it took an income of $201,400, a gain of 37 percent or more than 26 times the rate of the median income gain experienced by the lower 99 percent.

Measuring the gap between Canada's elite class and the masses in a different manner, Statistics Canada said the wealthiest 1 percent in 1982 earned 7 percent of all the income in Canada. By 2010, that had risen to 10.6 percent, CBC reported.

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