Costco Wholesale Corp. said Thursday that it will shut its two home furnishing stores in July because of the recession. Costco, one of the nation’s largest wholesale club chains, has made some gains during the economic downturn as shoppers have headed to its stores mostly for deals on bulk food items and gasoline. But sales of nonfood items, such as furniture, have dropped as consumers continue to curb their discretionary spending. The company said it decided to close its Costco Home stores in Kirkland and Tempe, Ariz. because their leases were close to ending.
Payday loan bill faulted for loopholes
The payday loan industry, threatened by Congress with extinction, has deployed well-connected lobbyists and hefty sums of campaign cash to key lawmakers to save itself.
The strategy has paid off. Now a top Democrat who once tried to ban the practice is instead pushing to regulate it — a result, he says, of the industry’s lobbying clout. The lawmaker, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., says his bill does have crucial protections for borrowers and represents the best deal he can manage in the face of the industry’s aggressive lobbying. Consumer groups are condemning the bill as a loophole-riddled gift to the industry.
Jobless claims rise unexpectedly
The number of people filing new jobless claims jumped unexpectedly last week, while those continuing to receive benefits hit a 10th straight record-high. Both figures show the labor market remains weak and is unlikely to recover anytime soon, despite some signs the economy’s decline is moderating. The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for unemployment insurance rose to a seasonally adjusted 669,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 657,000. That total was above analysts’ expectations and the highest in more than 26 years, though the work force has grown by about half since then.
Kodak chairman’s pay drops 81 percent
Eastman Kodak Co.’s chairman and chief executive received compensation valued at $2.1 million in 2008 as the imaging company pared another 2,500 jobs and its digital overhaul lost momentum in the economic downturn, according to an Associated Press analysis of data filed with regulators. Antonio Perez’s pay package was down 81 percent from the $11.7 million he received in 2007, largely because he did not receive a performance-based bonus or stock awards in 2008. Perez, 63, drew a salary of nearly $1.1 million last year, according to a proxy statement filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Perez also received stock options valued at about $684,000. However, the options are exercisable at $7.41 each. Kodak’s stock is well below that figure, so the options have little value.
From Herald news services