Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Monday, June 4, 2001

Greenspan says inflation remains under control

SINGAPORE >> U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan said today he was encouraged by signs that gasoline prices in the United States could be coming down in the months ahead and inflation is "not a significant problem" in the U.S. economy.

Addressing International Monetary Conference delegates in Singapore by live video link from Washington Greenspan stressed, however, that the Fed is keeping a close watch for signs of potential inflationary pressures.

The Fed has cut interest rates five times this year in an effort to boost the struggling U.S. economy, though government officials have remained watchful for any possible surge in inflation. So far it has been kept in check by U.S. businesses' current inability to pass along higher costs to consumers and by the strong U.S. dollar, Greenspan said.

Tobacco companies to pay $29.6 million

New York >> A Brooklyn jury ordered Philip Morris Cos., RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp. and other cigarette makers to pay $29.6 million in damages to New York's largest insurer for the cost of helping ill smokers.

The jury verdict handed an unexpected victory to Empire BlueCross Blue Shield, which has 4.3 million subscribers. The decision is the first instance in which an insurer has been successful in a court case seeking reimbursement from the tobacco industry.

The jury found the com-panies engaged in deceptive practices, misleading smokers about the dangers of cigarettes. The companies were found not liable on racketeering violations, which could have tripled the damages.

Empire had asked the jury to award it $800 million.

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