Business Week in review: 08/24/14

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Bourbon rocks

Kentucky bourbon makers are stockpiling their product, betting that demand will increase. Inventory now has exceeded 5 million barrels, according to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. The risk? Bourbon must be aged at least two years in new charred oak barrels. So if they have guessed wrong, they’re stuck with that big inventory. But the drink’s growing popularity has bourbon makers envisioning a big payday down the road.

Bidding top dollar

In the heated battle for your dollars, Dollar General made a $9.7 billion bid to buy Family Dollar Stores, which last month agreed to an $8.5 billion takeover by Dollar Tree Inc. Dollar General, the current leader in the dollar-store market, would lose that top spot if Family Dollar and Dollar Tree merged. On Thursday, however, Howard Levine, Family Dollar chairman and CEO, rebuffed Dollar General and said the company intended to pursue the merger with Dollar Tree.

Lego larceny

The popularity of those colorful interlocking pieces of plastic has made Legos a target for thieves. A Long Island woman was charged with stealing $60,000 worth of Legos from a storage facility with the intention of selling them on eBay. That followed the arrest of four people in Phoenix for the theft of Lego sets worth at least $40,000 in a scheme that involved recruiting shoplifters and reselling the sets online.

UPS has an oops

United Parcel Service officials said they had discovered a computer data breach at 51 of its stores in 24 states, including its Monroeville store on Mall Boulevard. Although they have not found evidence of any fraud yet, the officials said customer names, addresses, email addresses and payment card information were compromised.

Quarter-million-dollar baby

That 1-year-old toddling around the house may look cute, but a government report said that 2013-vintage babies will cost middle-income families $245,340 to feed, clothe and educate until they reach 18 — at which time they will no doubt need something approaching that figure for college.

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Since the 2008 recession, private debt has declined for mortgage, credit card and auto loans, The Wall Street Journal reported. The notable exception: Student loan debt at least 90 days past due, which has nearly doubled from $13 billion in 2009 to $25 billion this year.

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More than one-third (36 percent) of Americans have no savings earmarked for retirement, according to a survey by Bankrate.com, including 14 percent of those who have reached retirement age and 26 percent of those aged 50 to 64. The Employee Benefit Research Institute says the two biggest reasons that people cite for not saving are day-to-day expenses and the cost of living.

Steve Twedt: stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963.


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