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An Apple iPad is displayed during an iPad launch event at the Apple retail store in San Francisco, California April 3, 2010. Apple Inc's iPad hit store shelves on Saturday after months of intense buzz, giving shoppers their first chance to decide whether the tablet device is worth all the breathless publicity. (ROBERT GALBRAITH/REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)
An Apple iPad is displayed during an iPad launch event at the Apple retail store in San Francisco, California April 3, 2010. Apple Inc's iPad hit store shelves on Saturday after months of intense buzz, giving shoppers their first chance to decide whether the tablet device is worth all the breathless publicity. (ROBERT GALBRAITH/REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

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Is Apple planning an iPad with an even smaller screen? Add to ...

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Smaller screen iPad in works, analyst says If the iPod nano can keep getting smaller, why not the iPad? Analyst Ashok Kumar of Rodman & Renshaw LLC says Apple Inc. could be preparing to unveil a new version of the tablet computer with a smaller screen. The screen on the iPad is now 9.7 inches, but the technology giant may be getting ready for a 7-inch version, Mr. Kumar said in a research note today, according to Bloomberg News. He based his research on discussions with Apple suppliers. Such a move, the news agency said, would be aimed at smaller devices such as Samsung Electronics Co.'s Galaxy Tab. The iPad - like all other things 'i' - has been hugely popular and sparked talk that others in the industry, such as Research In Motion Ltd. are planning something similar.

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China's SAIC eyes GM stake The biggest auto maker in China, whose global ambitions seemingly know no bounds, is studying the possibility of buying into General Motors Co. when the U.S. company goes public again, The Wall Street Journal reports. SAIC Motor Corp. has expressed interest in a stake in a reborn GM when it returns to public markets this year, the newspaper said. The two companies have been partners in China for years. The newspaper notes that issue would be a thorny one for the U.S. government, which owns 61 per cent of GM, given the billions in aid the iconic auto maker received.

A Denver house in foreclosure

U.S. recession declared over The U.S. recession ended in June of 2009, according to the group that determines such things. But that begs the question: With millions unemployment and millions who have lost their homes, do American's know it? The National Bureau of Economic Research said today that its Business Cycle Dating Commitee met yesterday via conference call and determined that the economy bottomed more than a year ago. "The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion," the group said. "The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II. Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months."

The NBER, though, gave a nod to the sputtering recovery and the extreme troubles left by the recession and the financial crisis: "In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favourable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month. A recession is a period of falling economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales ... The committee decided that any future downturn of the economy would be a new recession and not a continuation of the recession that began in December 2007. The basis for this decision was the length and strength of the recovery to date."

The NBER announcement came just hours after the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development downgraded its outlook for the U.S. economy, forecasting that it will expand just 2.6 per cent this year.

The recession killed the jobs of millions of Americans. Here's where things stand:

  • The U.S. jobless rate is at 9.6 per cent. The so-called underemployment rate, which includes those who have given up searching and part-time workers who'd prefer full-time work, is at 16.7 per cent. More than 8 million jobs were lost in 2008 and 2009.
  • The U.S. poverty rate is up for the third year in a row, to 14.3 per cent. More than 43 million people live in poverty and almost 51 million have no health insurance coverage.
  • The number of home foreclosures in the United States in August hit the highest monthly level since the beginning of the crisis.

"From a forecasting or market perspective, today's announcement means little, as investors are focused on the path of upcoming activity rather than what happened last year," Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economists said in a research note. "... However, the decision to mark June/Q2 2009 as the trough will fix an important comparison point for economists and other analysts seeking to understand how the economy, labor market, etc. have done 'since the recovery started.'"



The main event Markets are increasingly focused on tomorrow's meeting of the Federal Reserve, and whether the U.S. central bank will unveil any new measures to spur on the faltering recovery. The focus is on whether the Fed could resume large purchases of U.S. Treasuries in a move to drive down interest rates even further. But, The New York Times notes today, the meeting is the last for chairman Ben Bernanke before midterm elections in the U.S., and it's likely the Fed will hold off doing anything at such a "politically delicate moment." Coupled with that is the fact that economic indicators of late have been mixed.

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