Week in review
The Internal Revenue Service expects to lose more than $37 million by using private debt collectors to pursue tax scofflaws through a program that has outraged consumers.
•Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines announced a proposed merger Monday night that would create the world’s largest carrier and possibly spur an industrywide round of restructuring that could vastly change air travel for millions of Americans.
•Gas prices fluctuated over the weekend but appear poised to resume their seemingly relentless trek toward a record high nationally of $3.50 a gallon. Forecasts call for gas to peak as high as $3.65 within a month.
Oil prices, meanwhile, rose to a record settlement and are within striking distance of last week’s trading record of $112.21 a barrel, as the dollar fell and crude supplies were disrupted in the U.S. and overseas.
Longtime Spokane business Burgans Furniture will sell its buildings on North Division Street and hold a closeout sale, its majority owner announced Tuesday. The block containing the store, located at 1120 N. Division St., and several smaller structures will be acquired by an undisclosed company, said majority owner Bruce McEachran, president of E.S. Burgan & Son Inc.
•U.S. food prices rose 4 percent, on average, in 2007, though many staples such as eggs, dairy products and chicken have increased by much more.
Inflation rose again last month, reflecting big jumps in the cost of energy and airline tickets. And the forecast is for even bigger energy-related increases to come, including the possibility of $4-a-gallon gasoline by Memorial Day.
•FBI Director Robert Mueller described a “tremendous surge” in mortgage fraud investigations that he said has diverted agents from other cases and is expected to keep growing. At a Senate hearing, Mueller said the FBI is investigating an estimated 1,300 mortgage fraud cases – including 19 into subprime lending practices by U.S. financial institutions.
Potlatch Corp. may spin off its pulp operations into a separate business – a move that would allow the Spokane-based company to focus more attention on its timberland portfolio.
Two distinct, publicly traded companies would emerge from the split.