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Economy Briefs

- - Monday, October 31, 2011


Government calls for votes on austerity plan

ATHENS — Embattled Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday called for a confidence vote and a referendum on last week's EU debt deal, taking a political gamble to silence growing opposition.

"On this road map of political initiatives I ask for a confidence vote" on Friday, Mr. Papandreou told his Socialist Party lawmakers in parliament moments after he announced a referendum would be held on the EU deal, likely early next year.

"An expression of confidence in the policy to be followed is more necessary than ever," Mr. Papandreou said. "The command of the Greek people will bind us … If the Greek people do not want it, it will not be adopted."

Mr. Papandreou, who has 153 deputies in the 300-seat parliament, has faced increasing dissent within his own party over the tougher austerity policy monitored by the EU and the International Monetary Fund, which has sparked general strikes and widespread protests, many of them violent.


Another power company backed by feds goes under

DOVER, Del. — A Massachusetts energy company that received a $24 million federal stimulus grant and a $43 million federal loan guarantee has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Beacon Power of Tyngsboro, Mass., filed for Chapter 11 protection on Sunday in bankruptcy court in Delaware, listing assets of $72 million and debts of $47 million. Beacon makes flywheel energy storage systems, used to keep power frequency steady on electrical grids by absorbing excess power then returning the energy when needed.


Federal judge rejects Tribune bankruptcy plans

WILMINGTON, Del. — A federal judge on Monday rejected the Tribune Co.'s plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection, along with a rival plan from dissident creditors.

Judge Kevin Carey said in a 126-page ruling that he may appoint a trustee to help end the 3-year-old case if the media conglomerate cannot come up with an acceptable plan soon. The Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, other major newspapers and more than 20 television and radio stations, declined comment Monday, saying it was still reviewing the decision.

Judge Carey scheduled a Nov. 22 meeting to determine how to proceed.


Home-video spending up again since 2008

LOS ANGELES — In a welcome relief for Hollywood, Americans finally are spending more on home videos.

For the three months through September, spending rose nearly 5 percent from a year earlier, to $3.9 billion. The figures from an industry organization, the Digital Entertainment Group, show the first increase since the recession took hold in early 2008.

Although people bought fewer DVDs and made fewer trips to brick-and-mortar rental video stores, they more than made up for that by buying more Blu-ray discs, renting more from kiosks like Redbox and spending more on mail-order DVDs and streaming videos from Netflix.

Buying digital copies of movies and ordering them from set-top box video-on-demand services also rose. For the year, though, spending is still down about 2 percent at $12.3 billion.


GM to invest $385M in Detroit-area plant

DETROIT — General Motors says it will invest $385 million at an engine plant near Detroit, creating or keeping 320 jobs.

The company says the Romulus engine plant west of Detroit will build a new fuel-efficient motor.

It is not providing any details about the new engine. The company also won't say how many of the 320 jobs are new.

The Romulus plant now has 840 workers on two shifts. It makes V-6 and V-8 engines for pickup trucks, full-sized vans and sport utility vehicles. The engines also have boating and industrial uses.

GM said Monday that the investment will pay for new equipment and upgrades.

From wire dispatches and staff reports