South-Westerns' Economic News Summaries
EconNews Online

EconNews Online is South-Western's service to provide summaries of the latest economics news stories. Review the brief summaries and, for stories of interest, select the full summary.
PROFIT MAXIMIZATION AND THE FIRM
Title  Brief Summary 
The Computer Age Doesn't Eliminate Paper, It Just Shrinks the Size of Paper Companies
Full Summary 
The computer age is here, but rather than creating a paperless society, it has created a "less-paper" society. Demand for paper products such as newsprint has flattened since 1990, as has demand for paper bags, white copy paper and other paper products. The only paper product that seems immune to such decreases is tissue.
(Updated April, 2007)
Pods for…er…Into the Future?
Full Summary 
If you've ever been involved in planning a funeral--or been to a few, for that matter - you know that, despite mortician's best sales efforts, all caskets pretty much look the same: they're boxy, and made of various types of wood or steel. So what happens if you need to buy a casket, but just don't like any of the models you see? You go into business and build them to suit your own aesthetic sensibilities!
(Updated September, 2006)
Chinese Airlines: What's It Take To Make a Yuan here?
Full Summary 
Profitability of Chinese airlines
(Updated March, 2006)
Lining up buyers and sellers can start to look a lot like antitrust activity
Full Summary 
Economists and government regulators alike are beginning to look at “two-sided markets:” economists because we don’t understand such markets very well, and regulators because these transactions can begin to look anti-competitive.
(Updated February, 2006)
Costco's business model proves successful
Full Summary 
Costco is the largest warehouse retailer, with almost 50% of the market, compared with Sam's Club 40% market share. Costco's profit last year was $882 million, up 22% from the previous year. How does it do it and keep it going?
(Updated September, 2005)
Hotels won't change the sheets every night anymore
Full Summary 
Hotel chains are beginning to act environmentally responsible: They're not changing sheets as often. It's also a good business decision, as their costs fall as a result. But some travelers aren't happy with the trend: They want fresh sheets every night.
(Updated September, 2005)
Broadband Just Keeps Getting Cheaper And Cheaper
Full Summary
SBC Communications has announced a move to lower the price of broadband Internet access for only $14.95 a month, sharply undercutting competitors, and putting it below the cost of some dialup plans. The move is putting significant pressure on competitors to follow suit and lower prices.
(Updated August 2005)
Kodak Struggles To Learn From Its Past Mistakes
Full Summary 
Around 5 years ago, Kodak decided to move away from its core business of working with silver halide film, and enter the world of digital photography. It's learning that these may have been smart steps taken a little too late.
(Updated August, 2005)
Production efficiency helps those who absolutely, positively, can't wait more than a few seconds for their double-tall-low-skim-non-fat-espresso-mochalattechino
Full Summary 
Starbucks can produce a regular cup of coffee in 20 seconds, a grande vanilla latte in 30 seconds, and a venti 'double-chocolate-chip-frappuchino-blended-crème' in under 90 seconds. Too slow? They're working on ways of improving those production numbers.
(Updated June, 2005)
I'll get you there for $14.95!
Full Summary
New immigrant businesses are going head-to-head with American icons. Greyhound has just reduced its fare for its Boston-New York run to $15. It had to, since Lucky Star Travel, a Chinese business, had been charging $15 for some time.
(Updated April 2005)
Something for that person who has everything...
Full Summary
Violight, a new company in New York, has created a toothbrush sanitizer. While it's not the first on the market--the first was about 3 times larger than Violight's--it is the first to attain relatively broad market appeal.
(Updated March 2005)
Just-in-time manufacturing may become just-as-soon-as-I-can manufacturing
Full Summary
As US firms move more and more production abroad in the search for ever-cheaper labor and other inputs, one thing is becoming increasingly expensive: getting the goods back to the US.
(Updated February 2005)
Big Brother? No, just Sam Walton
Full Summary
Wal-Mart has about 3,600 stores in the US currently, serving about 100 million customers each week. As a result of all those customer purchases, Wal-Mart has about 460 terabytes of data on their consumers' buying habits. Perspective: That's more than double the amount of information contained on the Internet and equal to about 460,000 gigabytes of data.
(Updated January 2005)
Wal-Mart vs. Sears-Mart
Full Summary
Is bigger better in the retail world? Sometime yes--if you're a giant firm like Wal-Mart. Sometimes no--when you're anyone else in the field, and it may be impossible to get large enough no matter how many mergers you form.
(Updated January 2005)
Yes, Virginia, that is a cheap flat-screen TV!
Full Summary 
As the Christmas buying season gears up, one thing is notably heading down: flat-screen TV prices. Some TV's, such as Sharp 32-inch LCD TVs that debuted at the beginning of the year at $5,000 are now selling for $4,000 or less. Competitors are selling for less than $2,000.
(Updated January, 2005)
With less fuel, airlines will still get you there, but it may require a few trips
Full Summary
In June, 2004, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) scaled back their requirements so that airlines must now carry only 5% over the estimated fuel needs on international flights instead of the previous 10% reserve requirement.
(Updated October, 2004)
Rental Cars: They're not just at airports anymore
Full Summary 
The biggest growth in car rental agencies isn't coming at airports; it's coming instead from the suburbs. Lining up next to coffee shops and bank branches in strip malls in suburban landscapes, rental agencies are quick to take space in the suburbs.
(Updated September, 2004)
Mommy, can we go to "--- 'R' Us" today?
Full Summary 
Giant toy retailer Toys 'R' Us is considering leaving the toy business.
(Updated September, 2004)
Long Fingernails and Jammed Printers are the Mothers of Invention
Full Summary 
In an attempt to make office mailing systems more efficient, Avery has come up with "Quick Peel" Automatic Label Peeler - a device that not only prints out labels, but peels them off for you as well.
(Updated September, 2004)
Europeans Discover That You Have to Live to Work so You Work to Live
Full Summary 
Europeans have always chosen in favor of less work and more leisure. Compared to U.S. workers, European employees work fewer hours in the week and take more time for vacation. The average number of vacation days in the US is 12 days, while in Germany the average is 30 days, and in France it is 25 days. However, EU nations are discovering that fewer hours worked does not translate into more workers working, or into greater competitiveness globally.
(Updated August, 2004)
New NBC Universal Poised for Big Gains in Entertainment Profits
Full Summary
NBC is in the process of finalizing its purchase of Universal Studios, and the new company, NBC Universal, will be one of the five largest entertainment companies in the world.
(Updated July, 2004)
I'll Replace That Hip for $49.95!
Full Summary
Apollo Hospital Enterprises in India now boasts a new service in its 37 hospitals spread across Southeast Asia: providing cut-rate health services to foreign individuals looking to save money.
(Updated July, 2004)
Furniture Makers are Down, but Not Out, in North Carolina
Full Summary
Furniture Brands International, a North Carolina furniture maker, has been hampered by competition from China. The company has recently shuttered 17 production facilities, but one in Thomasville, NC, has refused to fold.
(Updated May, 2004)
Yeah….Um…. I Want to Return $1.6 Billion in Planes?
Full Summary
As consumers shift away from air delivery of goods to less-expensive ground delivery, UPS is negotiating with Airbus to cancel up to US $1.6 billion in A300-600 aircraft orders.
(Updated April, 2004)
Pilots Save Jobs by Offering to Take Less Pay
Full Summary
The union representing Delta Airlines' pilots have offered to cut pilots' wages by 9%, as well as forgo a 4.5% pay raise for pilots next year, in an attempt to stem company losses.
(Updated February, 2004)
The Railroads
Are So Busy, They Don't Know if They're Coming or Going
Full Summary
Years of retrenching in the railroad industry is coming back to haunt it. Reductions in demand for railroad freight transportation over the last few years caused reductions in personnel and equipment. This year, as a result of the surge in agriculture and in the economy overall, the industry is struggling to keep up with increased demand for transportation of bulk goods.
(Updated January 4, 2004)
"You've Got a PC!!"
Full Summary
America Online (AOL) has lost two million US subscribers in the last year, and is fighting back in the internet service market with a new promotion: commit to one year of service, and they'll throw in a personal computer and color printer for only $299.
(Updated January 4, 2004)
Reach out and touch someone over the Internet!
Full Summary
A new form of competition has erupted in the telecommunications industry - using current digital Internet lines to transmit telephone calls, at little cost.
(Updated October 17, 2003)
When it absolutely, positively, has to get there…even FASTER!
Full Summary
In a move to become more competitive in the package-delivery industry, UPS has pledged to reduce ground delivery time by at least one day.
(Updated October 17, 2003)
No More Annoying Sales People
Full Summary
Federated department stores introduces amenities into its stores and reduces the number of human interactions in its stores.
(Updated September 10, 2003)
To Charge or Not to Charge
Full Summary
The tourism industry was hard hit by terrorism, modestly by the war with Iraq, and heavily by the continuing slow economy. A meeting in Florida recently examined the possible response by the industry to keep tourism related businesses afloat. One overriding message was to keep prices up!
(Updated June 2, 2003)
Money for Nothing
Full Summary
EMI has bought out Mariah Carey's lucrative recording contract for $28 million. This is symptomatic of the trend toward shorter commitments to artists, caused by their shorter spells of popularity and higher marketing costs.
(Updated April 1, 2002)
Farmers Stick Neck Out and Raise Alpacas
Full Summary
Alpacas are being increasingly farmed for their wool that, for example, can be woven into fine sweaters. Some owners are breeding alpacas for resale.
(Updated September 1, 2000)
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