Wednesday, May 11, 2011

FEMA Issues

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is responsible for giving aid to Americans who are left with practically nothing after a natural disaster. In 2005, a busy year for FEMA, several thousand grants were given out to those who qualified for the money- and also to those who weren't. FEMA has issued a statement to about 5,500 people that they need to repay the money sent to them by FEMA. Victims of floods, and possibly victims of hurricane Katrina, will be asked to repay what was given to them. Now, nearly all of these people have already spent the money in efforts to restart their lives, like for a new house. These people don't have that kind of money anymore- in some cases up to $27,000 is being requested. Also, these people were given 30 days to pay it off. Obviously this is very unreasonable, so FEMA is attempting to come to an agreement with them and try and find some sort of payment method. FEMA is requesting this money back because of financial, and employee errors. In times like this, it's almost impossible to expect from these people what FEMA is asking. In hard economic times, these people, who are just not getting their lives back together, can't afford to lose it all. My question to the readers, is do you or do you not think the people should be required to repay what they were given? Remember the money given to them in the first place was not a loan, and is typically not required to be re-payed. However, the agency is still obligated to try and reclaim misplaced funds. So please comment with you're answer, as well as an explanation why you feel that way. I personally believe that these people should not have to repay what was given to them years ago because the money has already been used to jump-start these people lives after a devastating natural disaster such as Katrina. There is no way these people can afford to pay $20,000, especially in a recession like this. Making these people repay this money will just complicate their lives even more, and make things much harder. Maybe a payment plan is more reasonable though, as I do understand that the agency is required to reclaim these funds. Let me know what you think!

-Matt Willis

LBJ Construction Faces Difficulties

LBJ, one of the most congested highways in the nation, has recently begun a 5-year construction project to reduce the terrible 5 o'clock traffic. According to an article about the construction, over 500,000 vehicles each day travel this highway. The project, $2 billion dollars in itself, includes the addition of 13 miles with new lanes for LBJ and 4 miles south on 35E. The construction will also include some underground toll lanes for those who are willing to pay for the project. But obviously, there are bad things that come with the reconstruction too.

During the FIVE year period in which this will take place, consumers can expect even more traffic from the construction. Certain lanes will be blocked off, access roads will be shut, and exits will be changed. Combining this post with another article, I read earlier that many businesses located along the highway are worried they will loose business from the folks that are not willing to exit the traffic. Due to this fear, organizers say that most of the project will be worked on during the evenings and nights to eliminate the possibility of economic downfall for businesses.

Since I live right next to LBJ, I see just how crowded the highway can get. But hopefully, after the construction is finished, the additional lanes will be worth the time and money. LBJ is expected to be able to hold up to half a million consumers at one time.

-Amber Stephens

Google Chrome PCs

According to a recent article, the new Google Chrome PCs will go on sale in June to compete with Apple and Microsoft as the world's best search engine. These PCs are part of Googles attempt to create an easier and more convenient computer for consumers. According to the Chrome website, this software is faster, simpler, and safer. In many ways, it seems as if this product is replicating the Apple software (only in a different way). Since so many people are already satisfied with the simple and clean Apple products, what makes Google think they will switch to Chrome? Google says that the software is "essentially a web browser that steers users to use applications like email and spreadsheets directly on the web". This would not only boost the number of consumers willing to try Chrome, but could possibly reduce the number of consumers using Outlook or Word. Chrome and Windows (a program that has been used and trusted for years by almost 90% of the world) are huge rivals since they are compliments to one other. Google is trying to satisfy their customers by removing the burden of time consuming tasks like installing updates, backing up files, and running anti-virus checks. Using the internet reduces the need to do these things. Additionally, since Chrome requires consumers to use the internet more, many will choose to use the Google search engine, "boosting Google's Internet ads business".

But what about those people without internet? It would be hard to create or access an important document if internet service is unavailable for your new laptop. Google needs to come up with some sort of solution to this.

Let's not forget that the demand for Apple products continues to increase and the software is only becoming more popular with time. Google will need to find more ways to attract the attention away from Apple and more to itself. Lowering the prices in June is one way that could create more demand since it will be more affordable.

-Amber Stephens

Toyota quarterly profits drop but recovery expected

According to a BBC article, “Toyota Motors' profits plummeted by 77% in the last quarter because of disruption caused by March's earthquake. “ Reports say that profits fell to $315.5 million USD between January and March. The drop is caused due to a shortage of parts caused by the earthquake. They claim that by July production will start increasing but that it will not recover until the end of the year. Toyota Motors is currently having a shortage. Thought eh demand remains the same or probably even higher, the company is unable to supply the quantity demanded causing disequilibrium. During this time of the shortage Toyota will losing customers to competitors creating a substantial loss of profit for the company. But as well over the time of their shortage, demand will build up, as more and more consumer want to purchase a car from Toyota. This build up of demand will eventually benefit the company in the future when they are able to supply the quantity demanded. Over the next few months their production will pick up and the factory will start being able to supply more cars, witch eventually will put their market back in equilibrium and some of their profit will be made up by the excess demand during the shortage.
Santiago Z

Gaga for Lady Gaga!!!

Many people know about Lady Gaga due to her catchy songs and her eye-catching outfits. Her audience is very diverse because of her songs and her speeches of one being who they truly are. She has been able to sell out every concert of her Monster Ball tour at an age of 25 years. Tickets averaged of a cost of $112 making a fortune. The demand to see Lady Gaga is very high but not everyone can afford a ticket and going to a concert of hers can be seen as a luxury that not everyone can enjoy so the supply is very limited. Some fans will save their money so they will be able to buy a ticket so they can do the trade-off they desire. Due to her big audience companies such as Virgin Mobile want to use her image and be promoted in her concerts to obtain consumers. Virgin Mobile even donated $20,000 as stated in the article to secure the liability of Lady Gaga to advertise Virgin Mobile in her concerts. These is a strategy of Virgin Mobile to obtain a variety of clients on behalf of Lady Gaga, who many fans perceive her as an icon, since many fans want what their idol have in a lower scale. Will other companies call Lady Gaga to promote their goods? Will Lady Gaga be one of the richest singers in the future as her concert prices go higher and demand increases?

By Abby Garcia

McDonald's Vs. Subway

Food is inelastic because people have to consume food regardless of the price. However, the people have the right to choose what they want to consume. Logically they will target the cheaper food products. Recently, the Subway food chain will soon surpass the McDonald’s food chain of restaurants. Even though the McDonald’s budget passes Subway’s budget by billions of dollars, Subway is determine to open more locations. A strategy that McDonald’s utilizes is it has many locations internationally while Subway tries to open locations in places such as malls, stores, and gas stations to provide the option of food without crossing the street. McDonald reassures that in the long term of business it will still surpass Subway. On the hand, the popularity of Subway is growing we can start to see that consumer sovereignty is going towards healthier food options with lower prices, which represents competition for McDonald’s. Consumers are starting make better trade-offs such as buying a Subway sandwich over a 2,000 calorie meal at McDonald. Consumers will always look for their options to pursue their self-interest. McDonald and Subway must keep present that some consumers can make a decision due to the income effect and McDonald’s has a dollar menu, which is a disadvantage for Subway. Will Subway surpass McDonald’s profit in the future? Will Subway suffer economically and shut down locations giving McDonald’s the win?
By Abby Garcia

Microsoft Expansion

All businesses go through an expansion period, and recently, technology giant Microsoft has begun to expand again. On May 10, 2011, Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 billion. This expansion allows for many more consumers to get the benefits that Microsoft has to offer. Skype had over 170 million users at the time of the purchase. This influx of consumers for Microsoft will surely increase demand for other Microsoft items. For example, Microsoft is thinking about offering Skype on the Xbox Live Marketplace. While it’s a stretch, this may provoke people to buy the Xbox game system if they were originally a PS3 person. However, many of the other gaming systems don’t offer this level of social networking, which is a major factor these days in purchasing game systems. This will create an increase in demand, which in turn will drive prices to equilibrium. Since an increase in demand is an outward shift of the demand curve, equilibrium would drive prices higher for Microsoft products, thus providing the opportunity to gain more profit, which is the goal of all businesses and firms. Skype is also going to be offered on Windows phones. So not only is Microsoft’s purchase going to show up in the gaming community, but it’s also going to show up in the general community. This is going to increase demand for Windows phones. And if equilibrium is reached, then prices for Windows phones will go up, maximizing Microsoft’s profit.
-Mark E.

PSN to Be Running Again by May 31

Many PSN users will be happy to hear that their beloved gaming network will be up and running again by May 31. For almost three weeks, the massive networks of gamers that use the PSN haven’t been able to access online gameplay due to the hackers that attacked it. This caused Sony to shut down the network until the problem is fixed in order to prevent further damage by the hackers. Everyone’s suffering from the outage of the network. There’s bound to be a decrease of demand this month due to the outage, which screws over Sony in this month’s profits. Fortunately though, this decrease in demand should drive prices for the PS3, or anything else that has the PSN, lower. However, I think it would take a much longer time for this decrease in demand to deal any major damage. On the other hand though, producers and developers of the major games that use the PSN are also getting screwed over. People aren’t going to go out and buy a game if they can’t even access the online portion of the game. This really hurts Sony because everyone who would have bought a PS3 this month during the outage, and the games that go along with the system, have most likely turned to Microsoft and bought an Xbox, which is a substitute for the PS3. For the most part though, we won’t see the extent of the damage until it releases its sales report sometime this year.
-Mark E.