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OMB, Greece, 9/11: Business angles to watch this next week

One good thing about the post-Labor Day period is that it tends to draw an end to the “summer doldrums” business journalists endure.  The back-to-work/back-to-school period is usually rife with angles for financial writers, and this week is no exception.  Here are a few items too timely to wait in line for their own separate posts:

OMB report due out Sept. 6.  As you know, the “fiscal cliff” created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 requires automatic across-the-board budget cuts starting in January, should Congress and the president fail to reach agreement on a better spending plan.  About $109 billion in cuts per year, equally divided between defense and non-defense spending, would kick in Jan. 2. 

Tribute in Light shines into the New York sky each Sept. 11. Photo: Barry Yanowitz

Of course, so much is in limbo, especially with the Nov. 6 election pending and the resulting uncertainty about which players will be around to come up with a last-minute agreement, if any.  But an Office of Management and Budget report due out Thursday as a result of the Thune-Sessions Transparency Act signed last month will provide some clues about a worst-case scenario and is worth getting some feedback from companies in your area.  Here’s a really good Bloomberg primer on the issues facing defense contractors while other industries bracing include health care, aviation/cargo, agriculture, small business and more.  The report will be a milestone in the budget battle, so it’ll be worth a read and some reaction from area businesses and trade groups.

Sept. 11 anniversary.   Now that the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks has passed, I would expect that annual recognition of the tragedy will begin to fade.  But in addition to societal, civil rights and military effects of Sept. 11, the events did have a profound effect on transportation, security, cargo operations and other business-related activities.  If you cover any of these industries, you might want to revisit the topic with an eye for innovations, new technology or an uptick in business for consultants, security device makers and others.

Also, note that the book “No Easy Day” by the Navy SEAL purporting to unveil what happened in the raid of Osama bin Laden was being timed for release on Sept. 11 — but due to leaks and Pentagon reaction now appeared on store shelves a week early.  Cashing in on the anniversary  also prevalent on online sites like Zazzle and CafePress; a look at the market for Sept. 11 merchandise and memorabillia could be enlightening.

Greece and the euro.  The New York Times reports that truckloads of cash and other provisions are being made in case Greece actually does exit the euro and adopt a different currency.  This is a good story if you have any local multinational corporations or suppliers, or IT firms that might be suppliers of accounting or finance software, or transportation companies, airlines and others that do business directly with Greece. 

If the whole situation has you baffled, here’s a graphic NYT primer on the European economic crisis overall, and here’s the European Union’s own primer on itself.  And this interactive BBC feature explains why it matters if Greece leaves the euro.

For background, here’s a U.S. Department of State report on Greece, including its economy and membership in the European Union, and here is the U.S. Census Bureau’s foreign trade portal.  The state-by-state listings of Top 25 import/export partners is particularly interesting even though Greece didn’t make the cut in a few states whose lists I skimmed. 

About the Author

Veteran financial writer Melissa Preddy served as a business writer, editor and columnist for The Detroit News from 1995 to 2008, is a Michigan-based freelance journalist. She now works as a writer and editor for a medical research unit of the University of Michigan Medical School. Follow her daily posts. | E-mail: Melissa Preddy

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