Business Briefs


POSTED: Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Ironman mattress line to debut

Spring Air Co., one of the world's largest mattress manufacturing companies, said yesterday it has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with T3 Athletic Recovery Products to produce and market an Ironman mattress line.

The new lineup will be showcased at the Winter Las Vegas Furniture Market in February and will be available at retailers soon after.

“;The Ironman lineup will utilize technology designed to give Ironman athletes and active consumers alike the quick recovery needed to live vibrant and productive lives,”; Spring Air acting CEO Steve Cumbow said.

Ironman already has nutrition, apparel and several other consumer products dedicated to athletes.

The annual Ford Ironman World Championship on the Big Island features more than 1,700 athletes competing in a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon.


Bad economy can be teaching moment

If you're trying to figure out how you'll afford everything your kids want this holiday season, consider whether a jolt of disappointment Christmas morning might be the best thing for them.

A bad economy may be good for our kids, according to psychologist Aaron Cooper, an expert on child and family relations with The Family Institute at Northwestern University who believes spoiling children can cripple their ability to cope with life.

He attributes depression, anxiety, and worry to the “;I just want them to be happy”; mentality.

“;We shield youngsters from so much adversity trying to keep them happy that we deprive them of the practice they need navigating rough waters,”; Cooper said. “;There's no other way to develop resilience except by facing adversity. It's a paradox that the first benefit of holiday belt-tightening is the valuable practice kids will have coping with disappointment.”;

Cooper suggests that parents acknowledge honestly the family's reduced resources, and encourage their children to share their gifts with each other.

“;It's an opportunity to connect more around the holidays, instead of everyone in separate corners with their latest toy or gadget,”; he said.


Many private firms doing well

Lumber wholesalers, real estate agencies and brokers and cement manufacturers have taken a beating over the past year, but privately held companies in some sectors are doing well.

Sageworks, which tracks sales of U.S. privately held companies, said the following industries saw sales rise more than 10 percent between November 2007 and November 2008.

» Animal food manufacturers (up 26 percent)
» Farm product merchant wholesalers (23 percent)
» Internet publishing and broadcasting (22 percent)
» Pesticide and fertilizer makers (16 percent)
» Waste management services (16 percent)
» Software publishers (15 percent)
» Navigation/electromedical/measuring instruments manufacturers (14 percent)
» Mining support services (13 percent)
» Direct selling (13 percent)


Most people flub financial ideas

Most Americans recognize that overwhelming debt is a burden, but they aren't always good at anticipating how much their spending will cost them.

According to a financial literacy survey by the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy, which advocates personal finance education, just a quarter of adults knew that overdrawing their checking account (bouncing a check) for a quick $100 was more expensive than a payday loan, credit card advance or emergency wire transfer.

More than half said they thought a payday loan would be pricier.

Understanding the cost of a mortgage was another challenge. Only a third knew that a homebuyer could expect to pay $350,000 in interest for a $300,000 house over the course of a 30-year mortgage with a 6 percent yearly interest rate.

Older respondents were more aware: While just 20 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds got it right, nearly 40 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds guessed a home's true cost. Just over 40 percent of the youngest group thought a house's interest cost would be $150,000, and 38 percent guessed $50,000.

“;There is increasingly a philosophy among young people, even people in their 30s and 40s: how much can I afford to pay to service my credit needs or loans on a monthly basis, versus how much does something actually cost you,”; said James Bowers, managing director of CEEL.

Even so, 61 percent of survey respondents said they wouldn't use credit cards to pay for the holidays.



Farmer half expecting a depression

The U.S. economy has a 50 percent chance of falling into a depression during the next three years, said Roger Farmer, a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research's economic fluctuations and growth program.

“;There's a significant probability things will get worse,”; Farmer, 53, said last week. “;We're certainly not at the end of the recession and things are getting worse.”;

A drop in the Conference Board's index of leading indicators underscores economists' expectations that the recession will be the longest in the postwar era as banks restrict credit, home and stock values plunge, and job losses mount. Farmer said he is predicting the U.S. recession will last at least another year.

“;Everything depends on business confidence, and what I see is declining confidence,”; said Farmer.