The week that was: Shaken and stirred

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Shaken and stirred

Add a new member to the class of observers frustrated with the West Penn Allegheny Health System: bondholders. The Post-Gazette's Len Boselovic reported this week that investors in the beleaguered health care system were angry to learn they were kept in the dark when insurer and potential partner Highmark asked WPAHS to file for bankruptcy. The investors only learned of the request one month later, when WPAHS said it was calling off the merger talks with Highmark.

The lack of transparency has investors imploring the Securities and Exchange Commission for greater oversight and disclosure rules. The WPAHS bondholders aren't alone: The U.S. Government Accountability Office found investors who purchase bonds through municipalities and school districts wait an average of 244 days after the end of a fiscal year for details on how the year's financials went.

Numbers down, polls up?

Six out of eight states considered toss-ups in the presidential election saw unemployment drop in September, Bloomberg News reported this week. Unemployment fell in these electoral college darlings: Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, Iowa and Nevada; it went unchanged in New Hampshire and Virginia. The national unemployment rate dropped in September, but the political import of the rate isn't going away anytime soon: The October rate is due Nov. 2 -- four days before the election.

Number of the week: $22 billion

It's the amount of money wiped off Google's market capitalization Thursday afternoon after an accidental early release of the search company's earnings report alerted investors before the markets closed that Google's quarterly results were weaker than expected. The stock closed at $695, down about 8 percent. The company said its financial printer, R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., prematurely filed the report.

"That's quite nice. We'll make maximum use of it."

-- Bill Groves, chairman of the board of supervisors in Cumberland, Greene County, which is receiving $1.04 million, the largest individual amount of money from the initial round of impact fee revenues.

Statewide, more than $204 million has been collected from the $50,000 per-well fees paid by Marcellus Shale drillers, and more than 1,500 towns can expect the check to be in the mail.


Erich Schwartzel: or 412-263-1455.


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