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Study links birth decline to economy A new study links the recession to a "sharp decline" in U.S. fertility rates by looking at changes in incomes, gross domestic product, unemployment rates and claims for jobless benefits on a state-by-state basis.

"A sharp decline in fertility rates in the United States that started in 2008 is closely linked to the souring of the economy that began about the same time," Gretchen Livingston wrote in the Pew Research Center report released yesterday.

"A state-level look at fertility illustrates the strength of the correlation between lower birth rates and economic distress," she added.

"States experiencing the largest economic declines in 2007 and 2008 were most likely to experience relatively large fertility declines from 2008 to 2009, the analysis finds. States with relatively minor economic declines were likely to experience relatively small declines."

Over all, births in the United States reached a record high of 4.32 million in 2007, the study said. According to preliminary data, the number fell to 4.13 million in 2009 and about 4 million in 2010 despite a growing population.

It's a fascinating look at the impact of the recession. It noted, for example, that North Dakota boasted one of the lowest jobless rates in the country, just 3.1 per cent in 2008, and was the only state to show a slight increase in births.

The overall fertility rate fell sharply from 69.6 births per thousand women to 66.7 in 2009 and, according to provisional numbers, to 64.7 last year.

"Experts suggest that much of the fertility decline that occurs during an economic decline is postponement of childbearing and does not represent a decision to have fewer children," Ms. Livingston said, citing past studies.

"In other words, people put off having children during the economic downturn, and then catch up on fertility once economic conditions improve," she added. "It's too early to know if fertility will bounce back as the U.S. economy recovers,5 but preliminary evidence suggests that the fertility decline may indeed be driven by postponement."

RIM gets service back Research In Motion Ltd. got its BlackBerry service back up and running today after three days of outages, The Globe and Mail's Omar El Akkad reports.

At the same time, co-CEO Mike Lazaridis apologized to customers after the CrackBerry withdrawal for millions of users around the world.

"Since launching BlackBerry in 1999, it's been my goal to provide reliable real-time comm around the world," Mr. Lazaridis said. "We did not deliver on that goal this week, not even this close. I apologize for the service outages this week. We've let many of you down. But let me assure you that we're working around the clock to fix this. You expect better from us, and I expect better from us."

There are also questions today about compensation, Reuters reports.

"We are reviewing our options in terms of compensation," a spokesman for Britain's Vodafone told the news agency, while Spain's Telefonica said it will compensate users, which is required by law.

"In the past there have been outages but they've been limited to an hour here and an hour there and the operators have been tempted to let that go," added Will Draper, an analyst at Espirito Santo, also in an interview with Reuters.

"They haven't been happy about it but it's not the kind of thing you go to court over. But this is completely different. This is a three-day outage. This is 10 per cent of your working month, so I'm pretty sure there will be compensation claims and I'm pretty sure they'll try and pass it on to RIM, but my feeling is it will be very difficult to make it stick."

Magna asked for information Magna International Inc. disclosed today that the U.S. Department of Justice has asked the auto parts giant for doments in connection with an antitrust probe.

The documents are connected to "various tooling bids," including one in which its Cosma International business was a supplier.

"Magna's policy is to comply with all applicable laws, and we are fully co-operating with the DOJ," the company said in a statement.

Other auto companies are also involved.

"We had been concerned Cosma International (20%-25% of total company sales) could be at risk of a similar investigation given Magna's dominant position in metal stamping," said analyst Michael Willemse of CIBC World Markets.

"However, as the investigation is related to tooling program bids, any potential impact would likely be limited as tooling is a small part of Cosma's overall business," he said, adding the investigation probably stems from the probes into other parts supplier that don't compete "on the same product lines" with the Canadian company.

"Ultimately, we would not expect this investigation to have a material impact on Magna," he said.

JPMorgan beats forecasts JPMorgan Chase & Co. kicked off the third-quarter reporting season for U.S. banks by beating analysts estimates today.

While investment banking fees slipped, JPMorgan made gains in consumer and business lending operations.

Overall, profit actually slipped, to $4.3-billion (U.S.) from $4.4-billion, though per-share earnings climbed to $1.02 from $1.01.

Trade deficit grows Canadian exporters are seeing better demand overseas, good news as the U.S. economy slows.

Canada's trade deficit widened in August to $622-million from $539-million a month earlier as import and export prices rose but volumes fell, Statistics Canada said. Import prices climbed 0.8 per cent - in every sector but for energy - while volumes slipped just 0.1 per cent. On the export side, prices climbed 1.6 per cent asn volumes dipped 1.1 per cent.

Exports to the key U.S. market fell 2.3 per cent, Statistics Canada said today, while American imports to Canada rose 2 per cent to reach their highest level since October, 2008, just after the collapse of Lehman Bros.

But here's the really interesting bit: Exports to other markets hit a record high, climbing 7.9 per cent for the fourth monthly gain in a row. This comes amid calls from many quarters to diversify, and Canadian companies seem to be doing just that.

U.S. gap with China grows Today's trade numbers from the United States promise to heighten currency tensions between the U.S. and China.

Overall, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed a bit in August, to $45.6-billion (U.S.), but the specific gap with China is now at a record high.

Having said that, China also reported trade data today, for September compared to the August numbers in the U.S. The Chinese numbers showed growth in exports and imports from and to the United States slowing, but the actual gap remained about the same, noted senior economist Jennifer Lee of BMO Nesbitt Burns.

Overall, China's trade surplus narrowed in September, and hasn't changed that much from where it stood a year ago, or two years ago, for that matter.

"But this apparent stability hides two trends," said Mark Williams, chief China economist at Capital Economics in London.

"The trade surplus with the U.S. and, to a less extent the EU, continues to rise. This is offset by a growing trade deficit with the rest of the world, primarily commodity producers and other countries in Asia ... As long as this persists, the U.S. will continue to pressure China to sustain renminbi appreciation."

Paul Dales, also with Capital Economics, but in Toronto, agreed, saying the record gap with China "will make the recent bill that would allow the U.S. to impose trade sanctions on currency manipulators (i.e. China) more popular."

In Economy Lab The "Occupy Wall Street" movement is an awakening, a populist call for that "adult conversation" many thought would take place after the global economic calamity of 2008. It didn't then, but it may now, Armine Yalnizyan writes.

In International Business Officials in Greece may be sighing in relief for passing a key credit review in exchange for more rescue funds, but market analysts remain apprehensive, Anthee Carassava reports from Athens.

In Globe Careers Post-MBA, how should women behave in the workplace? Not how you would expect, it seems, writes Charlotte Clark of The Financial Times.

In Streetwise Which country saw the cost of insuring its sovereign debt against default rise more in the third quarter, Spain or China? It's not what you might think. Streetwise columnist Boyd Erman examines the issue.

From today's Report on Business

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