Money Minute: Beef Prices Break the Bank; Vanguard Rakes In the Dough


The price of beef is near record highs, and it’s likely to go still higher.

Food and Farm Local Beef
Jessica Hill/AP

While most food prices have increased only modestly, beef prices have soared 26 percent over the past five years. The main reason for the latest round of beefier prices is the severe drought in Texas and other key areas that has trimmed cattle supplies. And as prices go up, American consumption of beef continues to decline.

The Vanguard Group took in more than one of every $4 invested in mutual funds last year. In all, investors poured $117 billion into Vanguard funds and ETFs. Vanguard is best-known for its index funds and its low costs. One of the big losers in the fund war was Pimco, the bond fund run by the well-known strategist Bill Gross. Investors pulled a record $41 billion, as Treasury bond prices slumped.

Here on Wall Street last week, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) edged slightly lower, while the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) and the Standard Poor’s 500 index (^GPSC) fell about half a percent. Most of the damage came on Thursday, as the new year got off to a weak start.

Members of the largest union at Boeing (BA) narrowly approved a new eight-year contract, assuring that production of the new 777X jet won’t be moved out of Washington state. The vote Friday means as many as 10,000 jobs will stay in the state, and stay within the machinists union. The pact includes some significant concessions by the workers on the company-sponsored pension plan. Boeing had received incentive offers from 22 other states to move production of new aircraft.

And the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of the oldest daily papers in the country, may go on the auction block. The group of owners that rescued the company from bankruptcy 2010 have been bickering over the management of the paper. One of the groups warns that there’s a “real risk of another bankruptcy.”

Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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