Morning Money Memo…
How big is too big? That’s the question for regulators at the FCC and the Justice Department after Comcast announced it would spend more than $45 billion to buy rival Time Warner Cable.
The deal would have a direct impact on tens of millions of cable TV and Internet subscribers, combining the nation’s two largest providers. While neither firm is a competitor in the same region, the deal puts more power over video content in the hands of a giant company.
Comcast already serves 22 million video subscribers, owning movie and TV content provider NBCUniversal, the parent company of the NBC network.
Time Warner Cable has 11 million video subscribers.
“I think this merger would be an absolute disaster for consumers,” says Craig Aaron, president of Free Press, a group that’s critical of recent mergers in the media industry. “It’s only going to lead to higher prices, fewer choices and way too much media power in the hands of one company.”
Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast, says the merger will help reduce costs and improve service for businesses and consumers.
Gas Prices Going Up?
Get ready for sticker shock at the gas pump. For months, gasoline prices have been fairly stable, but analysts say that will change soon.
“We’re entering that period where we’re going to see increases in most parts of the country,” says Tom Kloza, a senior analyst at gasbuddy.com.
Global oil prices have been rising recently, some refineries will go offline for maintenance, and there will be a switch-over to summer gas formulas. All of these factors could lead to an increase of 40 cents a gallon.
Gasbuddy says prices are already rising. The price for a gallon of regular is now back up over $3 in all 50 states.
Young Grads and Debt
Most college-educated Americans have solid middle class jobs. But many young grads under the age of 35 are burdened by debt. The National Financial Capabilities Study finds about four-fifths of young college graduates under the age of 35 have long-term debt.
“You do see a lot of debt across Gen Y,” says economist Paul Yakoboski of the TIAA-CREF Institute. The long-term debt obligations include student loans, car financing and mortgages. “In many cases, there’s a genuine concern about, ‘Am I going to be able to pay that debt off?’”
Many millennials are also struggling to reduce high interest debt on credit cards.
Foreclosure Filings Up
Foreclosure filings rose last month compared with December. But the trend is still lower than a year ago, says RealtyTrac. Completed foreclosures across the country were down sharply from early 2013.