The financial news held few surprised this week. Apple's new iPhone 4 was released - with a glitch the company promises to fix. The third "Twilight" movie performed strongly in its first five days at the box office, but fell short of its predecessor's record-breaking results. And Warren Buffett gave away a little more ($1.6 billion) of his fortune to charity. However, amidst the ho-hum offerings, there were some interesting bits of news you may have overlooked.

IN PICTURES: 7 Ways To Position Yourself For A Recovery

The Job Picture Gets Better - No Wait, It's Actually Worse
Have you ever heard the quote about how statistics are like bikinis (Punchline: What they reveal is suggestive and what they conceal is vital.) Well, it seems that even the Department of Labor isn't above dressing itself up for the economic climate. According to the latest report released on July 2, the unemployment rate fell in June from 9.7% the previous month to a still-painful 9.5%.

Unfortunately, this news doesn't imply that the economy is on the upswing. For one, there are still nearly eight million fewer private-sector jobs than there were in December 2007, before the market crashed. In addition, the report suggests that the biggest reason for the drop in the unemployment rate is simply that many people who were looking for a job had given up. This group of 1.2 million is referred to as discouraged workers, and the Department of Labor determined that there are now 414,000 more of them than there were in June 2009. (To learn more, check out What You Need To Know About The Employment Report.)

BP Shirks Its Bill
After facing some intense pressure from President Obama and the media, oil company BP (NYSE:BP) agreed to foot the bill for a $20 billion escrow fund to pay out damage claims from its notorious and ongoing Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The company also agreed to sever its dividend payments to investors. Supporters of this move saw it as a major step of the U.S. government in terms of demanding corporate accountability - critics saw it as an unconscionable political interference.

Perhaps the critics needn't have worried, as BP continues to act like a healthy American company. According to the New York Times, on July 2, BP released documents showing that it was seeking nearly $400 million from its partners in the still-gushing oil well, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:APC) and the Mitsui Oil Exploration Company (Nasdaq:MITSY)of Japan. This sum represents roughly 40% of what BP forked out for cleanup efforts in May.

All companies with a stake in an oil well are commonly held responsible for paying for the costs associated with an oil spill. BP's recent move in the wake of its highly publicized commitment to take responsibility for the spill is leaving the company with some egg on its face. Under current U.S. law, companies are only bound to pay out up to $75 million for the economic costs of an oil spill. The Obama administration is currently working to raise that cap, but rest-assured that the battle with BP isn't over yet. (For more on the BP spill and its effects, check out Oil Sands Should Benefit From Gulf Disaster.)

Borrow Money To Pay Bills?
After emerging from bankruptcy a year ago, GM (OTC:MTLQQ) is reportedly preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) as early as the fourth quarter of this year, and expects to file plans within the next week. Whether the re-issuance of GM stock will put the company back on track has yet to be seen. GM was profitable in its first quarter - the first time this has happened since 2007 - and has fully repaid the loans it received from the U.S. government.

But news that GM is seeking a $5 billion revolving line of credit from banks to repay its loans and provide the company with a cushion against another expected drop in U.S. auto sales. It isn't the most glowing reflection about how company management is feeling about its ability to sell cars. (To read about some of the brands GM has dropped in its effort to re-emerge as a viable company, check out 5 Dead Auto Brands And Why They Died.)

China's Economy Runs Hot and Cold
China also appeared in the news this week, as reports that its economy had rebounded strongly from the global slump emerged. However, this strong rebound also threatened to make China's economy look relatively weaker in upcoming months, with some analysts predicting a slowdown. The release of results for manufacturing and output showed month over month declines in June.

According to the Wall Street Journal, China is expected to soon surpass Japan to become the second-largest economy in terms of GDP after the U.S., but the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, admitted that the economic environment in China is "complicated". Although major stimulus spending by the Chinese government helped China get back on its feet, Europe's current debt crisis is likely to impact demand for goods produced in China. (For background reading, see Top 6 Factors That Drive Investment In China.)

The Bottom Line
This week saw the continuance of ongoing news stories that are unlikely to fade from the headlines any time soon. Stay tuned for new developments in next week's Water Cooler Finance. (Miss last week's Water Cooler Finance? Check it out: Water Cooler Finance: Shocking Court Rulings, Sinking Markets.)

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    10 Must Watch Documentaries For Finance Professionals

    Find out about some of the best documentaries that finance professionals can watch to gain a better understanding of their industry.
  2. Options & Futures

    Pick 401(k) Assets Like A Pro

    Professionals choose the options available to you in your plan, making your decisions easier.
  3. Economics

    Is the U.S. Economy Ready for Liftoff?

    The Fed continues to delay normalizing rates, citing inflation concerns and “global economic and financial developments” in explaining its rationale.
  4. Stock Analysis

    The Biggest Risks of Investing in Berkshire Hathaway Stock

    Learn about the risks of investing in Berkshire Hathaway. Understand how issues of succession, credit downgrade risk and increased regulation could hurt it.
  5. Investing Basics

    The Top Five Public Railroad Stocks in the U.S.

    We offer a breakdown of the seven Class I railroads in North America based on their annual revenues.
  6. Stock Analysis

    Why Is GE Selling Some of Its Subsidiaries?

    Learn why GE is selling off a substantial amount so it does not have to comply with increased government regulation in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
  7. Stock Analysis

    3 Stocks Warren Buffett Sold in Q2 2015

    Learn from Warren Buffet, world-renowned investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Uncover his most recent investment decisions as of Q2 2015.
  8. Home & Auto

    How Much Money Do You Need to Live in NYC?

    Learn how much money you need to meet basic expenses in New York City as a student, as a professional and as an unemployed job seeker.
  9. Entrepreneurship

    5 Signs You’re About To Be Fired

    Often the signs of an imminent firing are subtle. Keep these five in mind.
  10. Investing

    Did the Fed Miss its Window to Raise Rates?

    The debate in the media over whether the Federal Reserve will announce liftoff this month or in December continues to rage on.
  1. What are the best free online calculators for calculating my taxable income?

    Free online calculators for determining your taxable income are located at, and Determining ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does comprehensive income get reported on my 1040?

    As of 2015, on the standard IRS Form 1040, your comprehensive or total income is calculated through lines 7-22. This is different ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Do negative externalities affect financial markets?

    In economics, a negative externality happens when a decision maker does not pay all the costs for his actions. Economists ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Why is the employment figure important to a "dove"

    The employment figure is important to doves, because they are primarily concerned with the health of the labor market. Doves ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between disposable and discretionary income?

    According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, or BEA, disposable income is the amount of money an individual takes home after ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Gross Profit

    A company's total revenue (equivalent to total sales) minus the cost of goods sold. Gross profit is the profit a company ...
  2. Revenue

    The amount of money that a company actually receives during a specific period, including discounts and deductions for returned ...
  3. Normal Profit

    An economic condition occurring when the difference between a firm’s total revenue and total cost is equal to zero.
  4. Operating Cost

    Expenses associated with the maintenance and administration of a business on a day-to-day basis.
  5. Cost Of Funds

    The interest rate paid by financial institutions for the funds that they deploy in their business. The cost of funds is one ...
  6. Cost Accounting

    A type of accounting process that aims to capture a company's costs of production by assessing the input costs of each step ...
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!