April 27, 2014 |
Airline mergers have put more than 70% of the nation's domestic traffic in the hands of four major carriers. But low-cost airlines still have some influence over airfares. A new study shows that when airlines such as JetBlue, Spirit, Frontier, Alaska and Southwest launch service on an existing domestic route, the average price from all carriers drops as much as 67%. It's good news for travelers, but aviation experts say most popular routes are still dominated by the four biggest carriers: United, Delta, Southwest and the soon-to-be-merged American and US Airways.
April 25, 2014 |
As temperatures plunged to 16 below zero in Chicago in early January and set record lows across the eastern U.S., electrical system managers implored the public to turn off stoves, dryers and even lights or risk blackouts. A fifth of all power-generating capacity in a grid serving 60 million people went suddenly offline, as coal piles froze, sensitive electrical equipment went haywire and utility operators had trouble finding enough natural gas to keep power plants running. The wholesale price of electricity skyrocketed to nearly $2 per kilowatt hour, more than 40 times the normal rate.
April 24, 2014 |
The ride-sharing service Lyft launched in 24 more cities Thursday, growing its total presence to 60 cities across the U.S. The company also cut the price of fares by 10% in all markets as it seeks to continue increasing ridership. Thursday's announcement is easily the company's most aggressive expansion so far, and for the next two weeks, users in the new cities will be able to take rides with Lyft for free. The bulk of the new areas added Thursday were mid-size cities around the country.
April 23, 2014 |
Even though the recent financial crisis is barely in the rearview mirror, risk is starting to build once again in both the U.S. mortgage and housing markets. Contrary to the prevailing view that only borrowers with pristine credit records can get a mortgage these days, many risky loans are still being made. A new index published by the International Center on Housing Risk at the American Enterprise Institute measures this risk month by month, based on about three-quarters of all home-purchase loans extended across the country.
April 23, 2014 |
New home sales plunged in March, another sign the spring home-buying season has started with a whimper. Sales of recently built single-family homes fell 14.5% from February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 384,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Sales dropped 13.3% compared with March 2013. The March data missed expectations, after economists predicted an increase from February as the home-buying season got underway. Quiz: How much do you know about mortgages?
April 22, 2014 |
After the coffee. Before hearing about the Aereo case at the Supreme Court. The Skinny: The Supreme Court on Tuesday morning will hear arguments in the ABC vs. Aereo case. Aereo is an Internet startup that broadcasters charge steal their signals. Alas, I won't be there, but I have a high court story for you anyway. When I was based in Washington, I occasionally covered the Supreme Court. You have to dress nice and they will wake you if you doze off. Other stories in Tuesday's Fix include Netflix saying it will raise prices and Comcast posting its second-quarter results.