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Mid-day Update

PODCAST: Retailers react to Bangladesh; oil companies raided in Europe

David Brancaccio May 15, 2013
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We could have a conversation about over-consumption in America, and the virtues of simple living. But how big retail chains are doing offers useful insight into the state of the American economy. Macy’s reported its profits are up and that it is raising the dividend it pays shareholders, despite modest gains in sales.

How are retailers in the U.S. and abroad responding to last month’s clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh, one of the worst industrial accidents ever? So far, the answer has been piecemeal. More than fifteen major retailers in Europe have signed on to a legally binding plan to help pay for safety improvements at facilities in Bangladesh. But in the U.S., many companies are coming up with their own individual approaches to making the factories they use safe.

Investigators with the European Commission have raided several oil industry offices this week. The U.K. offices of BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and Platts, an industry data provider, were subject to what the Commission called “unannounced inspections.” The investigation is in its early stage, and it is not clear if anything illegal will be found, but the concern is price manipulation.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is taking a stab at the government inefficiency beast. The committee is set to hold a hearing on 380 ways to make Washington more efficient. The number 380 comes from congressional reports outlining 380 areas of government waste and duplication. Yet despite the catchy title, governtment watchers aren’t getting too excited.

How We Survive
How We Survive
Climate change is here. Experts say we need to adapt. This series explores the role of technology in helping humanity weather the changes ahead.