From Detroit back to D.C.
General Motors will no longer count the U.S. government as a major shareholder. The U.S. Treasury Department announced last week it plans to sell some 200 million shares back to the company and 300 million shares on the market by early 2014. The shares were bought as part of a $49 billion bailout for the auto firm in 2008, when the federal government stepped in with cash infusions for GM and several other failing companies.
The government exit over the next several months is expected to mean a loss to taxpayers of about $12 billion, but is one of the last remaining stakes that the government still holds from the Great Recession bailout. GM CEO Daniel F. Akerson told employees in a memo that it would be the last of the "Government Motors" label, writing, "Our results show that we are changing the company so we never go down that path again."
Home sweet home
Home sales in the Pittsburgh region ticked upward in November, with the number of home sales rising 18.5 percent when compared to last year, according to RealSTATs, a South Side-based real estate information service.
The total amount spent went up as well, from $273 million last year to $331.5 million this year.
Washington County saw the largest year-over-year increase in home price, going up about $16,000 to hit $181,915. Of the five southwestern Pennsylvania counties surveyed, only Westmoreland County registered a drop in home prices, falling from $140,629 to $135,277.
Protected against Ebenezer
Last-minute shoppers take note: those gifts you're buying for the holidays this year are probably covered by your insurance policy. The Post-Gazette's Tim Grant reported a little-known clause in most homeowners, rental and condominium policies: presents are insured and covered in the event they're destroyed or stolen by a Scrooge-like thief. Higher-priced items -- like, say, five golden rings from an expensive jeweler -- should be called in to your agent at the time of purchase, experts said.
Number of the week: $107,300
That's the cost this year of those five golden rings and all the other assorted gifts given in "The 12 Days of Christmas." Every year, PNC Wealth Management adds up the cost of giving all the presents listed, from the maids to the hens to the partridge in a pear tree.
The price of gold has gone up, so five rings runs about $750, while the geese market has just flown -- six geese cost $210 this year, or up almost 30 percent from 2011.
Nine ladies dancing, though, still cost as much as they did in 2011, at $6,294.03, and 10 lords-a-leaping didn't leap in price, costing $4,766.60 for the second year in a row.
Erich Schwartzel: email@example.com or 412-263-1455.