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PODCAST: iBoat and Sandy moves ashore

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Hurricane Sandy could turn out to be the widest — if not the strongest — storm to ever hit American shores. Nine governors have declared states of emergency. New York City today is preparing for the assault as the storm bears down.

Businesses in the path of Hurricane Sandy are preparing for anything but business-as-usual. One of them is the Milk and Honey Market — a neighborhood grocery store and café in Philadelphia.

Forecasters say the northeast could well be facing power outages, but utility companies and their customers feel like they’re still recovering from the last storm, Hurricane Irene.

Stormy weather, indeed. New data from the Commerce Department this morning shows consumer spending rose 0.8 percent in September. That’s better than was expected. Most U.S. financial activities have been suspended today, but at least one company has braved the hurricane and released its financial results. Burger King saw an unexpected jump in profits in the third quarter. Any boost in its share price, though, will have to wait until we get through one Whopper of a storm.

Though no one’s trading U.S. stocks today, you can bet folks with money in weather derivatives will be watching their portfolios. It’s a kind of obscure area of finance that gets a fresh look whenever mother nature throws a curve ball.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of NAFTA. The world’s largest free trade zone promised to create jobs in Mexico, so that fewer Mexicans would need to illegally immigrate to the U.S. But since then, the number of people living here undocumented has nearly quadrupled.

And finally, Steve Jobs was not known for his ostentatious living, but one exception was the custom yacht he was working on right up until his death one year ago. Well, the 250-foot yacht is finally finished. “The Venus” was christened yesterday at the Dutch shipyard where it was built. The Jobs family was on-hand. It’s an odd-looking thing, if I do say so myself — a very angular, minimalist design. From the bridge, the yacht appears to be run by — what else — seven Apple iMacs, all in a row.

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