Median CEO pay rises to $9.7 million in 2012
NEW YORK (AP) — CEO pay has been going in one direction for the past three years: up.
The head of a typical large public company made $9.7 million in 2012, a 6.5 percent increase from a year earlier that was aided by a rising stock market, according to an analysis by The Associated Press using data from Equilar, an executive pay research firm.
CEO pay, which fell two years straight during the Great Recession but rose 24 percent in 2010 and 6 percent in 2011, has never been higher.
A divided Fed wrestles with when to slow bond buys
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve is torn over when to slow its aggressive efforts to stimulate the economy.
Its uncertainty burst into view Wednesday, when Chairman Ben Bernanke testified to Congress in the morning and the Fed in the afternoon released the minutes of its last policy meeting.
Stock prices gyrated through the day as investors struggled to determine whether the Fed might soon pull back — even gradually — on its extraordinary efforts.
The Fed is buying the bonds to try to ease long-term borrowing costs, encourage borrowing and accelerate growth. And it's said it will maintain its pace of bond purchases until the job market improves substantially.
Economists don't expect the Fed to curtail the bond purchases next month. But Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for Capital Economics, said the September meeting is a real possibility.
College fossil-fuel divestment movement builds
SWARTHMORE, Pa. (AP) — Student activists at more than 200 colleges are trying a new tactic in hopes of slowing the pace of climate change: They are asking their schools to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.
The Fossil Free campaign argues that if it's wrong to pour pollution into the air and contribute to climate change, it's also wrong to profit from it. The strategy, modeled after anti-apartheid campaigns of the 1980s, aims to limit the flow of capital to fossil fuel companies by making their stocks morally and financially unattractive. In theory, that could lead to a slowdown in how much fossil fuel is burned and indirectly speed investments in renewable energy.
The students say it's hard for colleges and universities to ignore the arguments when scientists are teaching classes about the threats of climate change, and when the core mission of such institutions is to prepare young people for the future.
US home sales tick up to highest in 3 ½ years
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes ticked up last month to the highest level in three and a half years, helped by a jump in the number of houses for sale.
The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million, up from 4.94 million in March.
Home sales have risen 9.7 percent in the past 12 months, evidence that the housing market is still improving. But sales have been roughly flat since November. The supply of available homes remains tight and many potential buyers aren't able to get loans.
IRS official Lerner: 'I did nothing wrong'
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service official at the center of the storm over the agency's targeting of conservative groups told Congress on Wednesday that she had done nothing wrong in the episode, and then invoked her constitutional right to refuse to answer lawmakers' questions.
In one of the most electric moments since the IRS controversy erupted nearly two weeks ago, Lois Lerner defended herself during a brief appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The committee is investigating the agency's improper targeting of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status from 2010 to 2012, and Lerner oversees the IRS office that processes applications for that designation.
"I have done nothing wrong," said a stern-looking Lerner, sitting next to three other witnesses and reading from a written statement. "I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations and I have not provided false information to this or any other committee."
US auto factories cutting back on summer downtime
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit automakers are largely forgoing the traditional two-week summer break at their factories and speeding up production to meet buyers' growing demand for new cars and trucks.
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