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VOL. 39 | NO. 5 | Friday, January 30, 2015

A country drowning in student loan debt

$1.2 trillion owed creates long-term problems for auto industry, home sales

Three and a-half years after graduating from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Yasameen Hoffman is still trying to land the kind of full-time job that will help her start paying off her student loan.

Student debt, rising rents take bite out of real estate market

Hefty student loans are a major stumbling block for young Americans as they try to buy their first home, a National Association of Realtors’ annual survey shows.

Cohen pushes for student loan bankruptcy protection

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen sponsored legislation in the Tennessee Senate that led to creation of the HOPE Scholarship, which provides four-year college students with $4,000 a year for their studies.

It’s a hands-on experience at Antiques & Garden Show

Don’t just look; touch. Come in. Sit down. Marvel at the off-seasonal flora and run your hands along the mossy bench. Please, do.

Local Weather

Weather in Nashville, TN

EVENTS

First Saturday Art Crawl. Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents paintings by juniors Marlos E’van and Aaron Harper at its downtown gallery WAG during the Feb. 6 edition of the First Saturday Art Crawl. The monthly visual arts event is presented by 5th Avenue of the Arts and takes place in that historic entertainment district of downtown Nashville. On the first Saturday of every month, 6 p.m.-9 p.m., an alliance of art galleries and museums collectively invite the public to explore the vibrant Nashville downtown art scene. More than 20 art venues participate. Admission free. Information: www.nashvilledowntown.com/play/first-saturday-art-crawl.

more events »

STATE LEGISLATURE

Both sides dig in for Insure Tennessee special session

Battle lines have been drawn for a Feb. 2 special session of the state Legislature to determine the fate of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Insure Tennessee proposal, which would use federal funds to catch some 280,000 working people falling through a health insurance coverage gap.

STREET LEVEL

Sewing seeds of success at Sunflower Café

Dreams, cancer, tofu, death, love, loyalty and the quest for good gut bacteria are parts of the story of the hidden little gem that is the Sunflower Café.

REALTY CHECK

Pay down that debt by investing in real estate

My father was born (1928) and raised in Franklin, when it was a sleepy little standalone hamlet unrelated to Nashville. In the mid-90s, I met him for lunch at the Shoney’s near I-65 off of Highway 96.

REAL ESTATE

Top 2014 commercial real estate transactions for Middle Tennessee

Top 2014 residential real estate transactions for Davidson, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson and Sumner counties, as compiled by Chandler Reports.

UT SPORTS

Campbell’s gamble finally pays with scholarship

KNOXVILLE – Galen Campbell might get to play a minute here or there as the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team pursues its surprising run toward bubble status for the NCAA tournament.

NEWSMAKERS

Smith tapped to lead Stites & Harbison

Stites & Harbison, PLLC veteran attorney Gregory D. Smith has been named office executive member for the firm’s Nashville office.

BEHIND THE WHEEL

Toyota’s lowest-priced car gets spruced up

Toyota’s lowest-priced car, the Yaris, is restyled inside and out for 2015, has an improved ride and adds new standard features – all for a starting retail price of less than $16,000.

GUERRILLA MARKETING

What to watch for in this year’s Super Bowl ads

Regardless of what happens on the field, history will be made at this year’s Super Bowl of advertising – starting with a record price tag of roughly $4.5 million for a 30-second spot, a significant spike from the $4 million advertisers forked over last year.

CAREER CORNER

You have an interview! Now, what should you take with you?

Hiring season is on! Chances are good you’ve been sending out your resume online for every interesting job out there. Soon, you’ll find yourself invited for in-person interviews.

THE WORLDLY INVESTOR

Why the market has fallen in 2015

The stock market overreached in 2013, expecting big things from 2014. Earnings estimates for 2014 were for growth of 10 percent-plus. High expectations boosted valuations above long-term averages.

I SWEAR

Different from or different than? A difference?

I’m fortunate to count Lee Martin, assistant director of Vanderbilt University’s English Language Center, as a weekly reader. Most recently, he writes about my having written, in a recent column, “No different than watching reruns on regular TV, right?”

STATE LEGISLATURE

6 of 7 who killed Insure Tennessee are on state health plan

NASHVILLE (AP) - Six of the seven Republican senators who voted to kill Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans are enrolled in the state government health plan.

Haslam unsure of next steps after defeat of Insure Tennessee

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam is unsure of his next steps after fellow Republicans swiftly defeated his Insure Tennessee proposal in the Legislature this week.

Bill would use traffic camera revenue for scholarships

NASHVILLE (AP) - Democratic state Sen. Lee Harris of Memphis has filed legislation that would use revenue from municipal red light cameras to send students to college.

COURTS

Sealed Vanderbilt rape case worries open records advocates

NASHVILLE (AP) — A judge's decision to seal all of the trial evidence used to convict two former Vanderbilt University football players of rape is unusual and overly broad, according to advocates for open records and the media.

REAL ESTATE

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage falls to 3.59 pct.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week, resuming their downward trend of this year after rising slightly last week. Rates are near historically low levels.

TECHNOLOGY

No fast or slow lanes for Internet? New rules proposed

WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring the Internet critical for the nation, a top U.S. regulator on Wednesday proposed an unprecedented expansion of federal power to ensure providers don't block or slow web traffic for America's countless users.

Net neutrality and what it could mean to you

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top U.S. regulator just announced he wants more power to oversee Internet service, much in the same way that the government already regulates phone service and other public utilities. The goal is to prevent Internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Sprint and T-Mobile from blocking or slowing down Web traffic, or striking deals with companies that provide content like Amazon, Google or Netflix to move their data faster than others.

HEALTH CARE

Outgoing FDA chief saw changes to food safety, tobacco rules

WASHINGTON (AP) — From food safety to tobacco regulation and politically charged drug approvals, Margaret Hamburg reset the course of the embattled Food and Drug Administration.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Health care, energy stocks among gainers on Wall Street

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose broadly Thursday, helped by a 6 percent jump in the price of oil and a rise in health care stocks following Pfizer's $16 billion deal to buy drugmaker Hospira.

US productivity falls at 1.8 percent rate in fourth quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. worker productivity went into reverse in the final three months of the year, while labor costs increased.

US jobless applications rise, but levels point to job growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — More people sought unemployment benefits last week, but the number of applicants remained near historic lows in a positive sign for job growth.

US trade deficit jumps 17.1 percent to $46.6 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit in December jumped to the highest level in more than two years as American exports fell and imports climbed to a record level.

Hackers infiltrate insurer Anthem, access customer details

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Health insurer Anthem said hackers infiltrated its computer network and gained access to personal information for "tens of millions" of customers and employees, including CEO Joseph Swedish.


WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4
STATE LEGISLATURE

Haslam's plan to expand Medicaid fails in state Legislature

NASHVILLE (AP) - Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans has failed during a special legislative session after nearly two years of negotiating with federal officials.

Reaction to the defeat of Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal

NASHVILLE (AP) - Reactions to the defeat of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income residents:

Senate panel could vote on Haslam Medicaid plan today

NASHVILLE (AP) - The fate of Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans could be decided on Wednesday.

House speaker says Tennessee gas tax increase unlikely this year

NASHVILLE (AP) — House Speaker Beth Harwell says that Tennessee lawmakers are unlikely to take up a gas tax increase during this year's legislative session.

STATEWIDE

Farmers can learn about marketing products at 'boot camps'

SPRING HILL (AP) — Growers who want to participate in farmers markets can learn more about what it takes at six Farmers Market Boot Camp Workshops, including Clarksville and Franklin, this month in Tennessee.

Bourbon, Tennessee whiskey sales up in US; exports top $1B

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Producers of Kentucky bourbon and Tennessee whiskey scored another round of U.S. sales growth in 2014, while exports topped $1 billion for the second straight year, a distilled spirits trade group said Tuesday.

NASHVILLE AREA

Concert, sports fans at LP Field getting new Wi-Fi access

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Titans fans will find it easier to check scores or upload photos at LP Field with new Wi-Fi access through fiber Ethernet connections.

Judge says dispute over Current TV deal will require trial

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A trial will be needed to resolve a dispute between former Vice President Al Gore and Al Jazeera America over tens of millions of dollars held in escrow as part of the news network's $500 million acquisition of Current TV, a Delaware judge ruled Tuesday.

HEALTH CARE

Some GOP want tax credits in health alternative

WASHINGTON (AP) — A small, influential group of Republicans in search of a replacement health care law intends to propose tax credits to help lower-income individuals and families purchase insurance, while simultaneously jettisoning the controversial coverage requirement in the current law, officials said Wednesday.

TECHNOLOGY

No fast or slow lanes for Internet? New rules proposed

WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring the Internet critical for the nation, a top U.S. regulator on Wednesday proposed an unprecedented expansion of federal power to ensure providers don't block or slow web traffic for America's countless users.

AUTO INDUSTRY

GM 2014 profit falls 26 percent to $2.8B on recall costs

DETROIT (AP) — If it weren't for the recalls, 2014 would have been a stellar year for General Motors.

Toyota raises forecast after quarterly profit up on weak yen

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp., the world's No. 1 automaker, raised its earnings forecast Wednesday after third quarter profit jumped 14 percent, boosted by a weak yen.

Nissan refuses mediation of union complaints on Miss. plant

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Nissan Motor Co. has declined U.S. State Department mediation of its dispute with the United Autoworkers over the union's attempts to organize a Mississippi plant.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

US stock indexes mostly fall as price of oil plunges again

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market ended an uncertain day mostly lower after the price of oil took another plunge. Stronger profits at Disney pushed its stock higher, giving the Dow Jones industrial average a small lift.

Oil price slumps again as US crude inventories surge

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices are sliding, ending a four-day rally, as the U.S. government reports that crude inventories surged last week.

Survey: US businesses post steady job gain in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. companies hired at a solid pace last month, a private survey found, the latest sign of steady improvement in the job market.

Hopes of a RadioShack revival fade with stock to be delisted

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The signal from RadioShack Corp., the company that introduced the first mass-market personal computer, is fading after years of heavy losses and the suspension of its shares.

Staples buys Office Depot for $6B to keep pace with change

NEW YORK (AP) — Evolving shopping habits have forced yet another retailer to think outside of the box.


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3
STATE LEGISLATURE

Harwell will allow committee chairs to prepare alternate Medicaid plan

NASHVILLE (AP) — House Speaker Beth Harwell said Tuesday that she has offered to have her committee chairmen draw up an alternate proposal for Gov. Bill Haslam if his Insure Tennessee plan appears to be headed for defeat in the ongoing special legislative session.

Minister bemoans overreach of federal government

NASHVILLE (AP) — A normally routine prayer in the Senate on Tuesday turned out to be anything but when a minister and activist bemoaned what she called "tyrannical" overreach from Washington.

House GOP leader says Insure Tennessee would pass floor vote

NASHVILLE (AP) - House Republican leader Gerald McCormick said Tuesday that Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans would pass comfortably in a full floor vote but faces an uphill battle in legislative committees.

Haslam makes Insure Tennessee case to lawmakers

NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told lawmakers Monday evening that his proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans is needed to improve lives and fix a "broken health care system."

Opponents of Insure Tennessee proposal plan Capitol protest

NASHVILLE (AP) — Opponents of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans are planning to protest at the legislative office complex on Tuesday.

HEALTH CARE

HCA beats Street 4Q forecasts

NASHVILLE (AP) — HCA Holdings Inc. (HCA) on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter profit of $527 million.

Feds reach $75M settlement with Community Health, N.M. hospitals

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Franklin-based Community Health Systems and three New Mexico hospitals have agreed to pay the federal government $75 million to settle allegations in a Medicaid false-claims case that stemmed from a whistleblower's complaints.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Nissan, GM among winners in January US auto sales

DETROIT (AP) — With low interest rates and cheaper gasoline to motivate them, and no polar vortex to keep them home, consumers went car-shopping in a big way in January.

REAL ESTATE

US home price gains weakened in December on slower sales

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home values rose at a modest pace in December, a sign there are too few potential buyers to bid up prices.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Oil surges again on signs companies slow production

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil soared again Tuesday as the low prices of the past few months force oil companies to slow down production in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Hopes for an end to oil price rout sends stocks higher

NEW YORK (AP) — A jump in oil prices helped push U.S. stocks indexes sharply higher for a second day on Tuesday, erasing much of their losses from the start of the year.

Is S&P's $1.38B deal enough to keep credit raters in check?

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than six years after the financial crisis struck, credit rating giant Standard & Poor's will be paying a hefty $1.38 billion penalty for its role in fueling the subprime mortgage meltdown. But that doesn't mean it can't happen again.

Coke bets on 'premium milk' to boost category

NEW YORK (AP) — Coke is coming out with premium milk that has more protein and less sugar than regular. And it's betting people will pay twice as much for it.

BP reports loss of $4.4 billion in 4th quarter of 2014

LONDON (AP) — Oil giant BP reported a loss Tuesday of $4.4 billion for the fourth quarter of 2014, as oil prices plunged.

NATIONAL POLITICS

EPA: Keystone XL's climate impacts need to be revisited

WASHINGTON (AP) — With the recent dip in oil prices, the Environmental Protection Agency wants the State Department to "revisit" how much of a toll the Keystone XL oil pipeline would have on global warming.

Obama-GOP overlap? Public works, corporate taxes, defense

WASHINGTON (AP) — Boosting tax credits for the working poor emerged as one area of common ground as administration officials testified Tuesday on President Barack Obama's budget for 2016.


MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2
STATE LEGISLATURE

Haslam makes Insure Tennessee case to lawmakers

NASHVILLE (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told lawmakers Monday evening that his proposal to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans is needed to improve lives and fix a "broken health care system."

5 lawmakers to watch in Insure Tennessee special session

NASHVILLE (AP) — As Gov. Bill Haslam's Insure Tennessee proposal to cover 280,000 low-income people heads into a special legislative session Monday, here are five lawmakers who are playing key roles in the debate.

Poll: Support strong among those familiar with Medicaid plan

MURFREESBORO (AP) — A poll shows that two-thirds of Tennesseans haven't heard much about Gov. Bill Haslam's plan to extend health coverage to more than 280,000 low-income residents. But the MTSU Poll indicates support significantly outweighs opposition among people familiar with the plan.

STATEWIDE

Achievement School District wants to recruit students

NASHVILLE (AP) - Tennessee's Achievement School District, the agency charged with turning around Tennessee's lowest performing schools, wants to start recruiting students.

NASHVILLE AREA

New federal courthouse in Nashville included in Obama budget

NASHVILLE (AP) - President Barack Obama's budget proposal includes $181.5 million for a new federal courthouse in Nashville.

HCA appoints new chief operating officer

NASHVILLE (AP) — Nashville-based HCA has a new chief operating officer, Sam Hazen, a 32-year veteran of HCA.

MIDSTATE

Community Health Systems forms Mississippi network

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — Vicksburg's River Region Medical Center and five other hospitals and 36 affiliated clinics purchased a year ago by Franklin-based Community Health Systems have formed Merit Health.

TECHNOLOGY

Apple plans to sell as much as $6.5 billion in bonds

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple is planning another large bond sale at a time when investors are paying near record premiums for high-quality bonds.

Hey, (Not-As) Big Spender! Tech firms hint at more restraint

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Technology's big-spending trio of Google, Facebook, and Amazon.com appear to be tightening their belts — at least a notch — in a concession to cost-conscious investors and a strong dollar that's taking a big bite out of their revenue.

HEALTH CARE

Obama's budget targets high cost of cutting-edge drugs

WASHINGTON (AP) — With patients facing more exposure to the cost of revolutionary new medications, the budget President Barack Obama released Monday reopened a debate on whether government should use its buying power to squeeze the pharmaceutical industry for lower prices.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Death toll from GM ignition switches rises to at least 51

DETROIT (AP) — More than 1,100 claims were filed in the week before Saturday's deadline to seek payments from the General Motors ignition switch compensation fund. So far, 51 death and 77 injury claims have been granted.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Late surge in the energy sector leaves stock indexes higher

NEW YORK (AP) — A late rally led by energy companies pushed U.S. stock indexes to a higher close.

US construction spending rose 0.4 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. construction spending accelerated in December as building activity increased for new houses and government-backed highways.

US factories grew last month at slowest pace in a year

WASHINGTON (AP) — US factories expanded last month at the slowest pace in a year, as orders, production, and hiring all declined. The figures suggested manufacturing may not add much to growth in the first few months of 2015.

US consumer spending slips in December as auto sales weaken

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer spending slipped in December, as the pace of motor vehicle sales slowed and more Americans saved their money.

Super Bowl 49's advertising winners and losers

NEW YORK (AP) — If you're talking about Super Bowl ads with co-workers on Monday, you're not alone.

Companies strike serious, somber tone in Super Bowl ads

NEW YORK (AP) — Forget slapstick and sex in Super Bowl ads: This year, serious was the name of the game.

NATIONAL POLITICS

Obama's record budget: Tax the rich, help middle class

WASHINGTON (AP) — Promising to help America's middle class, President Barack Obama on Monday sent Congress a record $4 trillion budget that would hammer corporate profits overseas and raise taxes on the wealthy while boosting tax credits for families and the working poor.


FRIDAY, JANUARY 30
MUSIC INDUSTRY

Miranda Lambert leads ACM Awards with 8 nominations

NEW YORK (AP) — Miranda Lambert is continuing her reign as contemporary country queen with eight nominations at this year's Academy of Country Music Awards.

STATE LEGISLATURE

Haslam wraps up statewide tour, names Senate sponsor

MURFREESBORO (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has finally found a Senate sponsor for his Insure Tennessee proposal just days before the start of a special legislative session to take up the matter.

Tennessee lawmakers asking Congress to keep feds out of schools

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers are turning to the federal government for help with a task that might seem self-contradictory - keeping the federal government at bay.

STATEWIDE

Tennesseans urged not to drink and drive Super Bowl weekend

FRANKLIN (AP) — State officials are joining the Tennessee Titans in urging folks to not drink and drive Super Bowl weekend.

COURTS

FTC settles case against 'revenge porn' site operator

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Colorado man accused of operating a "revenge porn" website has settled with federal regulators who said he broke the law by posting nude pictures of women without their consent or knowledge.

TECHNOLOGY

How can Google snap its stock out of its stupor?

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google has turned into a stock market laggard as the shift to mobile devices has lowered the Internet search leader's digital ad prices and the company's expensive investments in far-out technology has trimmed its profit margins.

Amazon shares spike as 4Q profit beats by a mile

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Amazon.com jumped over 8 percent in aftermarket trading after the e-commerce giant beat quarterly profit expectations by a mile.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Tech advances lower chance that driver will die in car crash

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chances of a driver dying in a crash in a late-model car or light truck fell by more than a third over three years, and nine car models had zero deaths per million registered vehicles, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Consumers fuel steady US economy as rest of world struggles

WASHINGTON (AP) — There's a good reason the U.S. economy is impressing the world right now despite a slowdown in the final three months of 2014: In a word, steadiness.

Stocks sag at the close; January finishes on weak note

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market is sagging at the close as investors weigh a slowdown in the U.S. economy and corporate earnings.

Oil soars on signs US oil companies curtail production

NEW YORK (AP) — The price of oil is up 7 percent on indications that production in the U.S. has slowed following the big drop in prices since last June.

US consumer sentiment rises to highest level since 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers are more confident than they've been since January 2004.

US economy slowed last quarter, but signs are pointing up

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy slowed in the final three months of 2014, but a burst in consumer spending and the prospect of continued low energy prices are bolstering confidence that growth will strengthen this year.

Markets brace for Big Oil profit plunge

NEW YORK (AP) — It's just a forecast, and for only one of 10 industry groups in the stock market. Yet it has almost singlehandedly turned what had been a strong earnings season into a weak one.

US pay and benefits rose at slightly faster pace last year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wages and benefits rose at slightly healthier rate last year, a sign strong job gains could be forcing companies to pay a bit more for workers.

Barbie blues gave Mattel holiday disappointment

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Slumping sales of Barbie did little to bring a happy holiday to her maker, Mattel Inc.

Poll shows giant gap between what public, scientists think

WASHINGTON (AP) — The American public and U.S. scientists are light-years apart on science issues. And 98 percent of surveyed scientists say it's a problem that we don't know what they're talking about.

For traders, oil's plunge takes a toll on egos and accounts

NEW YORK (AP) — The plunge in oil has crushed the Russian ruble, erased $80 billion from Exxon Mobil's market value and pushed Venezuela to the brink of economic collapse.

Venezuelan hedge fund manager gets 13 years in prison

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A Venezuelan hedge fund manager has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for running a massive Connecticut-based investment fraud scheme that involved hundreds of millions of dollars.

NATIONAL POLITICS

What red ink? As deficits dip, all sides seek more spending

WASHINGTON (AP) — The deficit is dead. Long live the deficit.

Republicans: House to begin work on health care alternative

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House will vote next week to repeal the health care law Republicans have vowed to undo. They'll also direct work to start on a replacement bill the GOP promised more than four years ago.

STATEWIDE

Poll: 79 percent approve of Tennessee's free tuition plan

NASHVILLE (AP) - A new poll by Middle Tennessee State University shows overwhelming support for Gov. Bill Haslam's program to make community college and technical schools free for upcoming graduates.

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