Business Briefs – August 24, 2016

The Hidden Risk to the Economy In Corporate Balance Sheets

NEW YORK (AP) – America’s debt problem is showing up in an unexpected place: Corporate America.

Of the $1.8 trillion in cash that’s sitting in U.S. corporate accounts, half of it belongs to just 25 of the 2,000 companies tracked by S&P Global Ratings. Outside of Apple, Google and the rest of the corporate 1 percent, cash has been falling over the last two years even as debt has been rising.

Investors in debt-laden companies could face losses, perhaps steep, if economic growth falters. The broader economy is also vulnerable because companies with more debt have to cut back further and lay off more whenever downturns hit.

Sensors, Other Devices Can Help Prevent Hot Car Deaths

DETROIT (AP) – Hot cars are a danger to children, particularly in a sweltering summer like this one.

So far this year, 27 children in the U.S. have died after they were left in hot vehicles, according to Kids and Cars, a Kansas City-based advocacy group.

Kids and Cars says the government should require automakers to install back seat reminder systems. But NHTSA says it’s still researching the best ways to prevent deaths. In the meantime, the agency is sponsoring public information campaign and more devices are hitting the market that can help prevent kids from being left behind.

Ford Recalls Over 88k Vehicles Due to Stalling Problem

DETROIT (AP) – Ford is recalling more than 88,000 cars and SUVs in North America because the engines can stall without warning due to a fuel pump problem.

The recall covers certain Ford Taurus and Police Interceptor sedans, Ford Flex wagons, Lincoln MKS sedans and Lincoln MKT SUVs from the 2013 through 2015 model years.

Ford says the fuel pump control modules can fail, and the engines may not start, or they could stall, leaving drivers without the ability to restart them.

U.S. Home Sales Fell in July Amid Inventory Shortage

WASHINGTON (AP) – U.S. homebuyers pulled back in July, as sales declined amid a shortage of available properties and steadily rising prices.

Sales of existing homes fell 3.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.39 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. The decline marks a reversal from rising demand that pushed sales in June to their highest level since February 2007.

Fewer homes are coming onto the market, putting a cap on the sales growth enjoyed earlier this year. Rising demand for homes is a positive, but the dwindling supply of listings has pushed up prices, which suggests a market not yet at full health.

Coal Towns Hit by Layoffs to Get Job Grants From U.S. Gov’t

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — U.S. communities in eight Appalachian states and Texas that have been hard-hit by coal layoffs are being promised more than 3,000 jobs in several industries through a multimillion-dollar federal grant.

Officials for the Appalachian Regional Commission and other agencies announced the 29 projects totaling nearly $39 million Wednesday. The investments are expected to create or retain more than 3,400 jobs in agriculture, health care, manufacturing, technology and other industries.

EU Backs Former Greek Statistics Chief Facing Trial

ATHENS, Greece (AP) – The European Union’s executive commission publicly defended Greece’s former statistics chief, who is facing trial over accusations he exaggerated the government’s 2009 deficit.

Former director Andreas Georgiou, who headed the reorganization of the Greek statistics agency from 2010 on, is accused by two former agency staff members of overestimating the deficit to the country’s detriment for political reasons — to get the IMF to pitch in to the bailout. But the EU labor commissioner said Wednesday that data issued by the agency under Georgiou’s leadership between 2010 and 2015 was reliable.