Morning Money Memo…
General Motors has hired Tony Valukas, a well-known lawyer and former US attorney, to lead its internal investigation into safety issues. The inquiry will look into why faulty ignition switches were used in some GM cars years after concerns were first raised.
The automaker is trying to convince consumers and regulators that it will move aggressively to address safety concerns. GM CEO Mary Barra says its review will “give us an unvarnished report on what happened” and “we will hold ourselves accountable.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee says it will hold hearings on why it took nearly a decade for GM to recall more than 1.5 million vehicles.
Data breaches and thefts of consumers’ personal financial information may become much more widespread. The Internet security firm McAfee found that 40 million credit card numbers are for sale to scammers. “They even had a ready and efficient black market for selling the stolen credit card information, including an anonymous, virtual-currency-based point-of-sale payment system,” says McAfee in its new security report. “Raw materials, manufacturing, marketplace, transaction support–it’s all there for thieves to use.”
New research highlights huge differences in how much Americans pay for common medical procedures and exams. One example is CT scans and imaging. “There’s a great discrepancy in the prices that you can get in the market for these services,” says Clayton Nicholas with Change Healthcare, a cost comparison firm. “Our data shows a price variability of around $300 for the low end to over $2500 for the most expensive facility.” That’s an 800 percent difference in price. Imaging services are often far cheaper at outpatient sites “and you can also get a high-quality image done,” says Nicholas. Increasingly, health insurance plans require consumers to pay a substantial part of the bill.
The job outlook is looking up for the second quarter. ManpowerGroup’s quarterly survey of employers’ intentions to increase or trim back their workforce found a net increase of 13 percent. The workforce solutions company says 19 percent of the more than 18,000 employers surveyed anticipate increasing staff levels. ManpowerGroup’s Chris Layden says it’s “the strongest second-quarter hiring intention since the second quarter of 2008.” The survey finds 95 percent of employers polled said they were finding it difficult to hire engineers.
American Airlines and US Airways canceled more than 14,000 flights last month–more than double the rate from a year earlier–as winter storms disrupted travel. But revenues rose despite weather problems, and Delta’s president is predicting a record profit in the first quarter.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow