WBEZ | money http://www.wbez.org/tags/money Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Worries rise in Russia as ruble falls http://www.wbez.org/news/worries-rise-russia-ruble-falls-111254 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1217_russia-ruble-624x415.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Inflation is going up and purchasing power is falling sharply for Russians as the country&rsquo;s currency drops in value.</p><p>The Russian government has taken strong measures this week, sharply increasing interest rates to 17 percent, and selling off a chunk of its dollar reserves to shore up the falling ruble.</p><p>None of the moves have worked, and the ruble is trading at about half its value from the beginning of the year.</p><p>NPR&rsquo;s Corey Flintoff tells Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s Robin Young that while there is no panic on the streets, and no runs on banks, for Russian who have the money, &ldquo;it makes more sense to go out and by what we used to call durable goods &mdash; refrigerators and TV sets. They idea is that you&rsquo;ll have more value out of your refrigerator because it won&rsquo;t lose value as fast as your rubles do.&rdquo;Inflation is going up and purchasing power is falling sharply for Russians as the country&rsquo;s currency drops in value.</p><p>The Russian government has taken strong measures this week, sharply increasing interest rates to 17 percent, and selling off a chunk of its dollar reserves to shore up the falling ruble.</p><p>None of the moves have worked, and the ruble is trading at about half its value from the beginning of the year.</p><p>NPR&rsquo;s Corey Flintoff tells Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s Robin Young that while there is no panic on the streets, and no runs on banks, for Russian who have the money, &ldquo;it makes more sense to go out and by what we used to call durable goods &mdash; refrigerators and TV sets. They idea is that you&rsquo;ll have more value out of your refrigerator because it won&rsquo;t lose value as fast as your rubles do.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.npr.org/people/2100491/corey-flintoff" target="_blank">Corey Flintoff</a>&nbsp;is a&nbsp;NPR international correspondent based in Moscow. He tweets&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/CoreyFlintoff" target="_blank">@CoreyFlintoff</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/worries-rise-russia-ruble-falls-111254 Financial burden of Ebola falls to African diaspora http://www.wbez.org/news/financial-burden-ebola-falls-african-diaspora-111031 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Ebola shipping.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Members of Chicago&rsquo;s West African diaspora say they are struggling under the pressure of supporting large extended families in Ebola-stricken countries, where the public health crisis has taken a <a href="http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/10/08/ebola-new-world-bank-group-study-forecasts-billions-in-economic-loss-if-epidemic-lasts-longer-spreads-in-west-africa">serious economic toll</a>. Some have turned to neighbors, government assistance programs and faith organizations for help -- not just to send back to their motherland, but to sustain their families in the U.S. during this period.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, to take care of five persons in America, at the same time to take care of more than 25 persons (in Africa), it&rsquo;s not easy,&rdquo; said David Young, &ldquo;and on a low income, it&rsquo;s terrible.&rdquo;</p><p>Young, a Liberian who came to the U.S. two years ago and was recently joined by his wife and three children, worries that his family might perish -- of starvation -- in Chicago&rsquo;s Chatham neighborhood on the South Side. The family receives free housing from the Chatham Fields Evangelical Lutheran Church, where Young is Music Director. Young says his take-home pay, about $1000 a month, is already low for a family that size. But lately, they&rsquo;ve had to make do with less, as he&rsquo;s been wiring about $600 montly back to his family in Liberia.</p><p>&ldquo;Because there&rsquo;s no work now in Liberia -- everything is shut down economically,&rdquo; Young explained, &ldquo;So, they tell me that they are not working.&rdquo;</p><p>The <a href="http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2014/09/17/000470435_20140917071539/Rendered/PDF/907480REVISED.pdf">World Bank </a>and <a href="http://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/ena/wfp268458.pdf">other international aid groups</a> confirm those reports. People in Ebola-stricken countries, afraid of catching the often-fatal virus, are staying home to avoid human-to-human interaction. This has left many households without income.</p><p>&ldquo;I am telling you that almost everyday they make a call,&rdquo; Young said about his family in Liberia. &ldquo;They have to call and tell us no food, no this one, no this, no that. They are not working. There&rsquo;s no jobs.&rdquo;</p><p>The amount that Young feels obligated to wire abroad has left him desperate for help feeding his family here. Trying to get help, Young said he has attempted twice to qualify for food stamps in Illinois. He was denied because he&rsquo;s lived in the U.S. fewer than five years. Because of the nature of his work visa in the U.S., an R-1 temporary visa for religious workers, Young also faces restrictions on what type of additional work he may seek to augment his income.</p><p>Still, Young feels compelled to continue to reach into his household&rsquo;s meager resources to scrounge whatever they can for his network in Liberia. In a front room of his house, a large blue barrel sits, half-full with items like hand sanitizer, soap, toothpaste, disinfectants, shampoo, and rice. All are items one can find in Liberia, but Young says his sons there tell him that pantry staples and basic household cleaning products have shot up in price since the outbreak began.</p><p>&ldquo;If you ask for a bottle of Clorox right now, it&rsquo;s very expensive,&rdquo; said Young.</p><p>Just across the street from Young&rsquo;s house, at the Chatham Fields Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pastor Kenety Gee helps lead a congregation with many Liberians. He said the financial toll of supporting family back home has hit them all.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really hard to look at the pictures, look at the stories, and ignore your family members,&rdquo; Gee said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really, really hard, so you got to stretch yourself.&rdquo;</p><p>Gee said he&rsquo;s no exception: one of his sisters in Liberia has a successful wholesale business, and never required Gee&rsquo;s support. But with Liberia&rsquo;s economy on hold, things have changed.</p><p>&ldquo;I send them $300 every week. That&rsquo;s $1200 a month,&rdquo; said Gee. &ldquo;But that&rsquo;s the kind of strain that is put on us here in the U.S.&rdquo;</p><p>The World Bank hasn&rsquo;t yet analyzed recent remittances to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Wiring services Western Union and Moneygram weren&rsquo;t able to share data. But people from all three communities share similar stories: that they&rsquo;re constantly transferring money, and that many have shifted away from shipping goods.</p><p>Artemus Gaye used to collect goods monthly to ship to Liberia. But his last 40-foot long container was sent in March. Since then, the business has dried up.</p><p>&ldquo;Who will you send it to now everyone has been quarantined, people are not moving around,&rdquo; said Gaye. &ldquo;The markets are very empty.&rdquo;</p><p>Today, Gaye&rsquo;s collecting protective medical gear and hospital supplies, which he hopes to ship in November. This isn&rsquo;t the usual stuff for this time of year. Normally, Gaye would be shipping Christmas presents. Still, he&rsquo;s optimistic that the market will be back to normal by the holiday</p><p>Gaye&rsquo;s encouraged by recent reports that Ebola is leveling off in Liberia.</p><p>&ldquo;We might be having a good Christmas season,&rdquo; said Gaye. &ldquo;You know, it&rsquo;ll be reflective, but at least people will be out there to do what they do best - interact with each other.&rdquo;</p><p>Many hope their family members in Africa will also be able to return, safely, to work. That could help ease finances for the diaspora in Chicago to celebrate the holidays, too.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/financial-burden-ebola-falls-african-diaspora-111031 Morning Shift: School's out for summer, may be time to make some cash http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-20/morning-shift-schools-out-summer-may-be-time-make <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Crown Fountain 2-Flickr-QUOI Media.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This week Chicago area schools are heading out for the summer. Parents and students explain what&#39;s on their agenda. What are you planning to do with more free time during the day? And as the Hawks wrap Game 4, what sports superstitions to you follow?&nbsp;</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-schools-out-for-summer-may-be-time-t.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-schools-out-for-summer-may-be-time-t" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Schools out for summer, may be time to make some $" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 20 Jun 2013 08:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-20/morning-shift-schools-out-summer-may-be-time-make Happiness pays http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/happiness-pays-104422 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/happiness%20money%20flickr%20materials%20aart.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Happiness can pay, according to researchers. (Flickr/Materials aart)" /></div><p>According to a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences, financial success is not necessarily determined by education, IQ, family background or a strong sense of self. After studying the profiles of over 10,000 Americans ages 16, 18, 22 and 29 they determined that a personal sense of happiness and optimism were the key determinants to financial success in life.</p><p>The report maintains that people who express more positive emotions and a greater sense of life satisfaction earn ten percent more in salaries than their respective peers in their age group. Deeply unhappy individuals on the other hand, earn 30 percent less. The study went on to report that happier teens were &ldquo;more likely to get a college degree, to get hired and promoted, and to be optimistic, extraverted, and less neurotic.&rdquo;</p><p>As a veteran of more than 40 years in a college classroom, I&rsquo;m not at all surprised by the National Academy&rsquo;s findings. It&rsquo;s been my experience that my best students were the ones who were happy in their private lives, and happy for the opportunity to be in school. I&rsquo;ve found that happy students were excited to learn, excited to be exposed to new knowledge, new challenges, new opportunities. Their optimism makes them eager learners, and although they want to achieve high grades, they are unafraid of failure or the hard work necessary to succeed.</p><p>Sure, raw brain power does matter. Sure, good study habits help. Absolutely, personal standards and family expectations motivate individual student performance and success. But, the bottom line for me is this: Give me a room full of students who feel good about life in general and understood the importance of humor and laughter, and I&rsquo;d be willing to take on any challenge with them.</p><p>Ironically, of course, there is an important philosophical lesson to be learned from this psychological study. That is to say: Money can&rsquo;t buy you happiness. But it turns out that happiness can get you more money!</p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Thu, 20 Dec 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-12/happiness-pays-104422 Dear Citibank http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/dear-citibank-104363 <p><p>Dear Citibank:<br /><br />Thank you for the piggy bank, glasses cleaner and huge piece of chocolate with your logo stamped on it:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/citibank.jpg" title="" /></div><p>We are glad you appreciate our business. However, next time, we would just take an extra five bucks in our account.</p><p>Thanks and happy holidays,</p><p>The Zulkey-Delahoyde household</p></p> Thu, 13 Dec 2012 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2012-12/dear-citibank-104363 The art of giving: Philanthropy in the age of the Great Recession http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-29/art-giving-philanthropy-age-great-recession-97738 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-29/giving_Flickr_Mr. Kris.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A number of new studies indicate that even in our present tough economic times charitable giving remains a strong component of the American way of life: Last year Americans gave more than $290 billion to their favorite causes despite the struggling economic climate.</p><p>I explore what this means in the video below:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/kQSaAr2e0y4" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em>Al Gini is a professor of business ethics and chair of the department of management at Loyola University Chicago. He is also the co-founder and associate editor of&nbsp;</em>Business Ethics Quarterly,<em>and the author of several books, including</em>&nbsp;My Job, My Self&nbsp;<em>and</em>&nbsp;Seeking the Truth of Things: Confessions of a (catholic) Philosopher.</p></p> Thu, 29 Mar 2012 16:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-29/art-giving-philanthropy-age-great-recession-97738 Department of 'duh!' The (arts) rich get richer http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-17/department-duh-arts-rich-get-richer-93159 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//blog/photo/2011-October/2011-10-14/fusing arts.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Now <a href="http://www.ncrp.org/paib/arts-culture-philanthropy">here's a shocker</a>: apparently most of the arts philanthropy in this country goes to big organizations. Who'da thunk it, huh? Who would imagine that arts funding in underserved communities, particularly communities of color, would lag behind donations to institutions serving wealthy white people?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-October/2011-10-14/fusing arts.jpg" style="width: 441px; height: 500px;" title=""></p><p>Obviously, study authors from the Committee for Responsive Philanthropy need to keep making this point if the situation is ever to be rectified; but sometimes I think the money spent on documenting the situation in the arts would be better spent on, oh, what's that called? The arts? For, <a href="http://www.economist.com/node/12263124">as it is written</a>, "You don't fatten a hog by weighing it."</p><p>But the issue does need to be raised, because attacks on the arts as "elitist" are only valid if the only arts groups getting support are the ones preferred by the elites.&nbsp; And validating that argument should be the furthest thing from the minds of people who support the arts, whether with their creativity, their attendance or their money.</p><p>What to do about it? A word of advice from a <a href="http://nonprofiteer.net/2007/05/10/dear-nonprofiteer-with-friends-like-these/">fundraising consultant</a>-cum-theater critic (or maybe it's the other way around): Don't count the money in other people's pockets. Don't presume that your audience is too poor to donate.&nbsp;<em><u><strong>Ask them!</strong></u></em>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/05/19/68456/americas-poor-are-its-most-generous.html">Poor people donate more generously than rich people</a>, and generous gifts to small organizations can make a huge difference.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 17 Oct 2011 14:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-10-17/department-duh-arts-rich-get-richer-93159 Chicago sports fans look for winning returns on big-money players http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-22/chicago-sports-fans-look-winning-returns-big-money-players-90870 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-22/cubs its never gonna happen.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Jim Hendry was fired from his post as <a href="http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=chc" target="_blank">Chicago Cubs</a> general manager on Friday. His long tenure with the franchise was marked by some rather long-term contracts--some stand to affect the club for years to come. Of course the Cubs don’t have a lock on bad contracts. <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>decided to look at some of the more notorious contract deals in Chicago sports--and examined whether an athlete’s performance was influenced by the prospect of dangling dollar signs. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>'s regular sports gal <a href="http://home.comcast.net/%7Eatthegame/cbio.htm" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout</a> joined blogger and author<a href="http://daynperry.com/" target="_blank"> Dayn Perry </a>to talk with host Alison Cuddy about how big bucks affect big stars.</p></p> Mon, 22 Aug 2011 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-22/chicago-sports-fans-look-winning-returns-big-money-players-90870 Coastal towns hope Great Lakes history is a beacon for tourists http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-08/coastal-towns-hope-great-lakes-history-beacon-tourists-88856 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//frontandcenter/photo/2011-07-08/88856/HERITAGE-photo Manistee Light 7-7-11-PAYETTE.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For more than a half-century tourism has been big business around the Great Lakes. For many small towns in the north, the entire economy can depend on visitors coming for two months out of the year. Few places have tried to attract tourists by showing them the history of the lakes, a history that is not widely known. Some think it could be a huge draw, especially as the baby boomers move into retirement.</p><p>One town in the region that does use maritime history to market itself is Manistee, Michigan, which calls itself the Victorian Port City. In 1882, a fire in Manistee claimed part of one block downtown. Seven buildings in a row went up soon after. They’ve all been restored in the original Victorian style.“You get an exact image here of what you would have seen in 1890,” said Steve Harold, a historian with the Manistee County Historical Museum.</p><p>Promoting history is unusual in northern Michigan. Most coastal towns around here promote the blue water of Lake Michigan and the beaches and boats that go with it. Manistee has a nice beach too, but the city has also put its heritage to good use. In early December every year Manistee hosts the Victorian Sleighbell Parade, so it’s one of the few communities in the north to have a major festival in the winter. The port is also a regular stop for cruise ships on the Great Lakes. Steve Harold says the historic character of the downtown adds flavor to what most tourists like to do, shop.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655">About Front and Center</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-05/big-ship-diary-88726">Big ship diary: nine days on a freighter </a></strong></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-04/dredging-shipping-industry-declares-state-emergency-88579"><strong>Dredging: Great Lakes shipping emergency</strong></a></li></ul><p><strong>Listen to maritime</strong> <strong>songs from Lee Murdock</strong><br> Hooray for a Race Down the Lakes<br> <audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483550-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-08/88856/Horray.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><br> Perry's Victory on Lake Erie<br> <audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483550-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-08/88856/Perry's.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><br> &nbsp;</p></div></div><p>Travelers spent more than 17 billion dollars in Michigan last year, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. National surveys show visitors increasingly want some kind of cultural experience that is unique to the places they travel. &nbsp;That’s why some people think the maritime history of the Great Lakes should be promoted more than it is.</p><p>But that history has long been neglected. Lee Murdock is a folk singer who lives west of Chicago. He’s been singing ballads and sailor songs about the lakes for 25 years. Murdock says it makes sense that people in the 20<sup>th</sup> century forgot about the lakes since they were using them like a sewer.</p><p>“And the lakes got dirtier and dirtier and dirtier,” said Murdock. “That’s when cities like Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit… and Buffalo, they kind of turned their back on the Great Lakes.”</p><p>Murdock says when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire it not only reminded people that the lakes were dirty, but that they were there. He thinks interest in maritime history has followed the environmental issues and he expects baby boomers to become more interested in the past as they grow older.</p><p>Bill Anderson agrees, and sees an opportunity. “We’ve never had an age cohort in the history of the United States with so much education and so much disposable income,” said the historian from Ludington Michigan.</p><p>Anderson was the head of Michigan’s now defunct Department of History, Arts and Libraries. These days he’s helping his hometown cater to those boomers. Ludington is one of those Lake Michigan towns that has mainly relied on the beach to attract visitors. &nbsp;But now city leaders are looking more closely at what else they have.</p><p>“One of the areas of strength for us is that we’ve always been a maritime community,” says Anderson.</p><p>The last coal-fired car ferry still operating in the Great Lakes has its home in Ludington.&nbsp; Other attractions here include a vintage baseball team, The Ludington Mariners, and a waterfront sculpture park featuring life-size bronze pieces that evoke the past. Anderson is involved in a study to inventory all the assets and show the business community that history and other cultural attractions are worth promoting.</p><p>Drawing in visitors is a challenge, though, even for the best maritime museums and exhibits. Chris Gilchrist, the executive director of the Great Lakes Historical Society in Vermillion, Ohio, says most historic attractions around the Great Lakes are not destinations.</p><p>“Most of your visitors come to the community for some other reason and say, ‘Oh, they’ve got a museum.’”</p><p>Maritime exhibits can be expensive. Ships and lighthouses especially are very expensive to restore and maintain. Government and foundation grants that typically help with such projects are harder to come by these days. Manistee just took ownership of its lighthouse and plans to refurbish it. Local historian Steve Harold figures it will cost $150,000 just for a proper coat of paint on the outside. He’s not worried about raising the money though because the light is Manistee’s icon.</p><p>“It’s on city stationary,” says Harold. “It’s on everything that gets published.”</p><p>Once it’s open, Manistee will have a lighthouse and two historic ships for visitors, in addition to the local museum. That will put the city in a good position if there is a renaissance Great Lakes maritime history and the tourism business favors towns that can satisfy travelers curious about the old days on the inland seas.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 08 Jul 2011 10:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-08/coastal-towns-hope-great-lakes-history-beacon-tourists-88856 Americans remain unsure of economy's future http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-28/americans-remain-unsure-economys-future-88464 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-28/80531469.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Nearly two years after the official end of the recession, Americans still remain unconvinced.</p><p>Consumer confidence has hit an eight-month low, according to a Conference Board report released Tuesday. The group studies how Americans feel about business conditions and the job market.</p><p>It turns out consumers aren't feeling so hot about the prospects for the future, which economist says could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.</p><p>This can be seen in any parking lot of a big-box store.</p><p>"We've obviously cut back with not knowing what's going on, and are trying to put more into savings, and not taking vacations and stuff like that," says Helena Gramann, who was shopping at a Novi, Mich., Target and Costco.</p><p>She and her husband, Greg, were going to the store with coupons, which is something they haven't always done.</p><p><strong>A Tight Budget</strong></p><p>"It's generally not like splurging as much," she says. "As you see something, you think about it little bit more before purchasing it. Try to stick to the budget a little bit more."</p><p>The Grammans say they're doing just fine — both still have jobs — but they're saving just to be safe.</p><p>Chris Christopher, an economist with IHS Global Insight, says that's exactly the problem.</p><p>"In a downturn, the No. 1 problem is basically confidence," he says. "Trying to get people to spend a little more, and it's a very difficult thing to do."</p><p>Christopher says one of the drags on consumer confidence are gas prices, which are up about a dollar a gallon from last summer.</p><p>"Consumers can't go to their boss and say, 'Hey, I want a higher salary this month because gasoline prices went up,'" he says. "They're going to have to make ends meet, and they're going to have to think of what to do. Dip into savings, use their credit card — if they still have a credit card."</p><p>Meanwhile Gary Bradshaw with Hodges Capital Management in Dallas says the cost of energy isn't just affecting consumers.</p><p>"I think it is reflects on the people out there hiring," he says. "When they see their costs up pretty dramatically in a short period time, it causes the fella that actually needs to hire people to pause a little bit."</p><p>And that adds to lack of confidence.</p><p><strong>Consumers Sensitive To Bad News</strong></p><p>Stacey and Patrick Grayson from Southfield, Mich. — one town over from Novi — said the high gas prices have made them stick a little closer to home.</p><p>"Our anniversary was yesterday and we wanted to go to Niagara Falls, but we're here in Novi," Stacey Grayson says.</p><p>"We just wanted to get out, get away from Southfield," Patrick Grayson says. "So we spent some time at the Sheraton."</p><p>Ken Goldstein, who works for the Conference Board, said the Graysons' story shows where most Americans are right now.</p><p>He says consumers are responding to months of bad news about the economy. But what if there were some good news?<br /> <br /> "Consumers are likely to treat that much better than another piece of bad news," he says. "If that sort of balance begins to change a little bit, that's when you'll start to see consumer confidence really change — hopefully for the better."</p><p>Goldstein says things are likely to say where they are now, at least for awhile. <div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. <img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1309292530?&gn=Americans+Remain+Unsure+Of+Economy%27s+Future&ev=event2&ch=1017&h1=Around+the+Nation,Your+Money,Economy,Business,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=137477718&c7=1017&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1017&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110628&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c21=2&v21=D%3Dc2&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></div></p></p> Tue, 28 Jun 2011 15:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-06-28/americans-remain-unsure-economys-future-88464