States take economic recovery into their own hands
DENVER — Here is one measure of the nation’s lingering economic trouble and the political anxiety festering in state capitals over jobs and angry voters: 500.
That is the number of laws, at a minimum, that have been passed and signed by governors since Jan. 1 that were aimed in some fashion at economic recovery, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures.
But with most states strapped and struggling to balance their budgets — and with Washington planning trillions in cuts in coming years — there is also painfully little money available to dive in with ambitious job-creation programs or investing in infrastructure, for example. If anything, the debt deal struck in Washington this week, with its attendant cuts in the federal budget, will only increase the pressure on state and local governments.
The result is a scattershot of economic body-building ideas and innovations mostly on the cheap.
Hawaii, for example, authorized an emergency transfer of money from environmental cleanup to economic development.
Indiana declared methane gas from landfills to be a “renewable energy source,” thus allowing incentives to be paid from an existing energy jobs fund.
Colorado is trying a bottom-up approach, looking for ideas — through meetings and sessions in every county — about what might work in creating jobs and what should be dumped as a hindrance.
And some states have found even budget-conscious innovation to be too costly. Florida began a pilot project several years ago based on what is called “economic gardening,” which involves helping businesses solve problems through things like virtual consultants. Other states have since embraced the idea, but this year, Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, vetoed continued financing for the program.
—Kirk Johnson, The New York Times
Toyota, rebounding from quake, increases profit forecast
TOKYO — Citing a quicker than expected recovery from Japan’s earthquake, the Toyota Motor Corp. raised its full-year profit forecast by almost 40 percent Tuesday, although it warned that a strong yen continued to weigh on its bottom line.
Toyota and other Japanese automakers have staged a striking comeback from the March earthquake and tsunami, as parts makers swiftly repaired their factories or switched production lines.
Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, said it expected a net profit of 390 billion yen, or $5 billion, for the business year that ends next March. In an earlier postquake forecast, it projected net profit of only 280 billion yen.
The revised estimate came as Toyota posted a 1.1 billion yen net profit for the April-June quarter. That was the period most affected by the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami March 11, damaging factories and severing supply chains.
On Monday, the Honda Motor Co. increased its profit forecast for the current fiscal year by 18 percent, to 230 billion yen.
Last week, Nissan, which is much less dependent than Toyota on production in Japan, posted a 85.02 billion-yen profit for the April-to-June quarter that was more than twice the mean estimate of analysts forecasts compiled by Thomson Reuters.
In Toyota’s case, its plants have tried to make up for lost production with extra shifts. The company now expects to lose 150,000 units in global output for the year, compared with an earlier estimate of 450,000 reported by Bloomberg. In the year ending next March, Toyota now expects to produce 7.72 million units, up from a previous forecast of 7.39 million.
Robust sales elsewhere in Asia are contributing to Toyota’s recovery, the company said. In China, sales rose 30 percent in July, rebounding from a plunge of more than 50 percent in the previous three months.
—Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times